I wanted to hate Mary Poppins. I don’t know why but I remember seeing it on Broadway many moons ago and not thinking much of it. So I didn’t plan to go and see the new West End production but boy am I glad I did.
At just under three hours I expected the show to drag by, with a handful of well known songs from the film mixed in with new fodder to bulk the show out into a full fledged musical. But with song writing duo Stiles and Drewe at the helm, I should have known what I would actually get was well crafted gems of songs that rival the original numbers from the film. There wasn’t a single song I wasn’t enthralled by.
Zizi Strallen is no stranger to the role of the flying Nanny, having just played the role on the show’s UK tour. She is not just ‘practically perfect’ but pure perfection. Teamed up with Charlie Stemp as Bert, this pair of triple threats are glorious to watch dance together and their chemistry is wonderful. Claire Machin, another performer who can do no wrong in whatever role she plays, is phenomenal as housekeeper Mrs Brill. Funny and entertaining throughout. Special mention must go to the children playing Michael and Jane Edward Walton and Ellie Kit Jones. Both gave great performances and Ellie is a real future star in the making.
The set and costumes breathe colour and vibrancy into the show and the choreography is second to none. As for how most of the magic is created I have no idea and to see Mary Poppins flying through the audience at the end of the show was just the icing on the cake.
If I didn’t already have another show booked tonight, I would buy another ticket and go back again. If you’re going to give the gift of theatre this Christmas, I really can’t recommend Mary Poppins enough. It’s the best Christmas present you could give, full of utter joy from beginning to end.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson
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