There is a sense of childish wonder and adventure that Rainbow Stage's "Mary Poppins" captures and distills.
—Michelle Palansky, CBC Reviewer
There is a sense of childish wonder and adventure that Rainbow Stage's Mary Poppins captures and distills. It is practically perfect.
The dancing is stunning. Choreographer Marc Kimelman moves easily from the sensuous statues come to life in "Jolly Holiday" to the show stopping "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
Indisputably the highlight of the show, the stage bursts at the seams with eye-blasting costumes and agile tumbling. The culmination is a danced spell-off done at a breakneck speed that leaves the audience gasping for breath.
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Internationally renowned escape artist Dean Gunnarson brings his expertise as illusionist advisor to this musical filled with flights of the imagination. With the deft hand of director Ann Hodges, they seamlessly incorporate illusions into the show which elevate rather than overshadow the action. Without giving too much away, watch for the vanishing act in the second half of the show. Amazing!
Laura Olafson, Carson Nattrass with Jenesa Lee and Noah Luis. (Rainbow Stage)
The main players find themselves in the challenging position of playing characters not just popular but iconic in public perception and they acquit themselves wonderfully.
Mr. Banks (Carson Natrass) is suitably stiff and stuffy, and Bert (Stephen Roberts) is an appealing rapscallion. The children, played by Jenesa Lee and Noah Luis, do an admirable job, although Luis may be spoiled for life as he takes the lion's share of the laugh lines.
Mary Poppins (Paula Potosky) beguiles from the moment she pulls her impossibly long coat rack from her small carpet bag. She twinkles and charms as the heart of the show. With a month of performances ahead, Potosky has ample time to fill the iconic boots of the formidable Mary Poppins.
Re-imagined from the original as an unsuccessful actor turned housewife, Mrs. Banks (Laura Olafson) brings a vulnerability and frustrated melancholy that adds unexpected depth to the show.
The supporting characters in this cast are uniformly superb. Of special note is Miss Andrew, a new character for this stage adaptation, played to hilarious effect by Brenda Gorlick. The combination of her insane vocal gymnastics and over-the-top nastiness place her well within the pantheon of bad girl Disney villains.
At two and a half hours, the show is a little long. Although well suited for a family outing, the young ones might need a pillow after intermission.
Strangely, the show ends on a rather intimate, quiet note which feels anticlimactic. As a remedy, the curtain call is a rousing reprisal of "Supercalifragilistic" which brings the audience to their feet.
Lovers of Disney musicals in general and Mary Poppins in particular will adore this show.
Mary Poppins runs through August 29 at Rainbow Stage.