No one needed a bright, colorful, uplifting performance -- proving there's magic in an old trusty umbrella -- more than winter weary Minnesota.
As a reward for surviving the latest April snow, and dodging the ever-dripping canopies of a lost spring, Minneapolis audiences were treated to a sugary sweet performance of a Disney classic at the Orpheum Theatre Tuesday night.
In the tale of "Mary Poppins" -- one I'll fully admit I'd forgotten over the years -- a pair of seemingly unruly children and their tired and slightly misguided parents seem at their wits end. Another nanny has left, following a string of hired help before her.
But the winds, they are a'changin' and soon enough, a bit of magic enters their lives and turns the dark and dreary Cherry Tree Lane into a runway for fairy tales.
Mary Poppins, played effortlessly by Madeline Trumble, seems to have an aura about her as soon as she floats onto the stage. Her poise and signature movements are reminiscent of the iconic role perfected by Julie Andrews, with just a touch more sass for good measure.
The children Jane (Alexa Shae Niziak) and Michael (Eli Tokash) often steal the show with their well-timed humor and highly impressive vocal performances. Not to mention, they're both ridiculously adorable.
And not since the days of Dick Van Dyke has a man covered in soot been nearly as charming as Con O'Shea-Creal. O'Shea-Creal's portrayal of the lovable chimney sweep Burt is touching, adorkable (yes, adorkable) and at times, mind-blowing and gravity defining. (Just wait until Act 2.)
If the incredible talent weren't enough, the stage itself is its own moving character -- complete with seamless transitions inside the Banks' residence and day trips to worlds beyond your wildest imagination.
A few transitions even led to audience applause -- based solely off the true enchantment that was unfolding before us. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to step inside a Disney film, this could be your closest chance.
The story itself is tried and true -- a magical nanny helps save a family by showing them what they needed all along. Still, the intimate lessons learned along the way are the ones that certainly strike a chord, even today.
At the guidance of Miss Poppins, the children learn not to judge others and discover the importance of love and value. In an opposite approach, George Banks (Chris Hoch) -- the stern father who puts work before family, is taught to live more like the child he never got to be and reassess his goals and priorities.
The songs are a combination of the classics we've all grown up with -- "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Spoonful of Sugar" and others, plus a few new songs that fit perfectly in the score. The cheery, upbeat tune "Practically Perfect" is a standout in the mix of new tracks, as is the achingly beautiful "Being Mrs. Banks."
From beginning to end, it doesn't take magical fairy dust or even a spoonful of sugar to see the broad appeal of this production and be engulfed in the incredible entertainment that Mary Poppins creates.
"Mary Poppins" runs through Sunday, April 28 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. For tickets or more information, click here.
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