I have watched Mary Poppins many times while growing up (and I still consider myself in the process of growing up), so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the [off-] Broadway show on opening night in Spokane: Would it be a live version of the movie, nothing like it, or somewhere in between? On my “Poppometer,” I’d say it fell somewhere in between, and in a good way. Now before I go any further, let me set the record straight on two very important things:
- I am not a professional broadway critic, no matter how delusional I am, and
- I did not receive compensation to write a rave review, but I was given tickets by West Coast Entertainment in return for sharing my genuine thoughts.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on. Spit spot.
Just a spoonful of hallucinogens you say?
Well, that’s what I finally inferred after all of these years of hearing, “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” But how did I come to that deduction? It’s quite simple, really. In the show, Mary Poppins gave spoonfuls of her “medicine” to the folks on Cherry Tree Lane, and when she did, the set turned into a dazzling display of colors, lights and wackiness. Now I’ve never partaken in hallucinogenic substances before (close your mouth, you’re not a codfish), but I imagine that if I did, my experience would be similar to that.
In the near future, we won’t teleport, we’ll umbrellate
It’s quite practical, really. Umbrellas are already a common accessory, particularly in geographic areas with high precipitation. Now all we need is some kind of clean, efficient quantum/ion drive that has omni-directional propulsion controls, and we’ll be all set. I enjoyed seeing Mary Poppins fly across the stage with her umbrella–it’s that extra touch that makes the show that much more magical. And come on, who wouldn’t want to sport the latest Coach, Louis Vuitton, or college/professional sports team-themed accessory that not only protects your body from unwanted moisture, but transports you quickly…and in style. Of course, you could always go with the timeless classic: parrot handle.
It’s four o’clock somewhere
The part of me that likes quirky things, such as meticulous attention to detail or lack thereof, searched for these throughout the show. I’m sure there were plenty that I overlooked, but the one that really stood out to me was the Roman numeral on the clock in the bank. Almost immediately, I noticed that it wasn’t the standard IV that you see when we write Roman numerals, but instead, was the traditional IIII that is seen on clocks. Surprised? Read the Wikipedia article on it. The set was practically perfect in every way. Bravo, set designers.
Can you hear me now?
I really wish I could think of another heading, rather than utilizing one of the most annoying marketing slogans of the 21st Century. But, I’m too lazy to think of something better, so you win, Verizon. My one major critique of the show was that even though we were sitting in prime seats, orchestra level, center, was that at times, it was difficult to hear what the actors were saying. Now, it’s quite possible that because this was opening night, they hadn’t quite worked out all the kinks yet. And hopefully the audio technicians and booth folks picked up on that for the remaining shows.
Now that song is stuck in my head
By far, my favorite musical number of the evening was “Step in Time,” which I don’t recall being as energetic in the movie. However, it surpassed the entertaining value of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which was an interesting adaptation in itself (picking out letters from a “candy shop”). I practically wanted to quit my day job (if my coworkers are reading this, I’m not that serious…sorry) and become a chimney sweeper. And the choreography was fantastic.
A few other notables
And here are just a couple more takeaways from my experience:
- While the Mary Poppins movie is geared towards kids, the Broadway show may not be ideal for them if they: aren’t able to sit still for a good hour at a time, are in the phase of asking questions about everything instead of just watching the show, would be overwhelmed by the lighting effects and potentially “dark parts” of the show (nannies fighting each other, giant toys/stuffed animals that terrorize kids, etc.).
- Don’t expect it to follow the plot line of the movie. Yes, there are similarities, but be open-minded to an on-stage “interpretation” of the story.
- As many times as you may want to yell out, “Will you be my nanny, Mary Poppins?” this isn’t the time or place for it.
- Consider polling your friends afterwards as to whether Mary and Bert finally kiss au revoir style.
- Child Protective Services wouldn’t approve of brimstone and treacle and cod liver oil.
See for yourself
If you’re interested in attending the show, you can visit the West Coast Entertainment Best of Broadway website for showtimes and tickets. It’s currently running in Spokane June 12-17, 2012.