Is it that important to have imagination as a banker? As a housewife? Does one really need a fanciful disposition to dust the floors or cook the meals. Perhaps not.
But perhaps, if one chooses to be a parent, imagination and wonder are good skills to have. For a time, these arenas will be the only common plane adults share with their children and it would be less than wise to beat it out of them too soon.
Of course, our friendly neighborhood vagabond Bert ( Gavin Lee) knows all this. He has never let his inner child be overtaken by such trivial pursuits as one proper job or belabored himself with excessive thought on any one topic. He knows of all the happenings on “Cherry Tree Lane”, and he will be the narrator and guide for the journey our beloved Banks Family must take.
George ( Karl Kenzler) is a respected banker and Winifred ( Megan Osterhaus) is an actress turned wife and homemaker. Try as they might, even with the help of trusted housekeeper Mrs. Brill ( Valerie Boyle) and bumbling, yet well-meaning valet Robertson Ay ( Andrew Keenan-Bolger), the couple can’t seem to keep a nanny. No women stay in the position for long and the parents are fully aware that their children Jane ( Bailey Grey) and Michael (Carter Thomas) are handfuls. Mr. Banks believes his wife just has not found the right nanny who will discipline them sternly enough. When the time comes for the family to submit yet another ad for a nanny, the children have come up with their own description of “The Perfect Nanny”, which Mr. Banks promptly tosses into the fireplace.
And poof! Just like that, as if burning the children’s request were supernaturally validated, the perfect nanny, Mary Poppins ( Ashley Brown) appears.
With moderate fanfare, and not quite the permission of the parents, Mary Poppins takes charge of the children, explaining that she is “Practically Perfect” in every way. She magically manifests furniture and toys to the wonderment of her in charges. She gets the children to begin to look at the world through different eyes, pointing out their prejudices and challenging their selfishness and impatience. But she also opens up a brand new world, the characters of the park and the adventures to foreign lands, all by walking thru the door of their imagination.
While Michael and Jane love the fun and games, their resist the harder lessons Mary Poppins has to teach. Likewise, Mr. and Mrs. Banks are not quite comfortable with her unorthodox style of nannying. So Mary leaves, prompting Mrs. Banks to the only solution she can think of: hire George’s legendary nanny, Miss Andrew (Ellen Harvey).
Miss Andrew reigns over the family with iron clad rules and admonishments. Only the return of Mary Poppins can save the family from the tyrannical clutches of the “nanny from hell”. But will she return?
This was a lovely show. The musical numbers were both magical and spectacular, revisiting some old favorites “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, reinventing a few more such as “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and even gracing the excited audience with a few originals like the reoccurring anthem “Cherry Tree Lane” and “Practically Perfect”.
A magnificent parade of characters that inundate the stage is sure to delight both young and old. And in case you’re wondering, as I was, whether Mary Poppins will perform her signature flying acting… she certainly does. Absolutely family friendly, Mary Poppins is a fairy tail that gives parents and children permission to openly love.
Mary Poppins starring Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee runs November 13, 2009 thru February 7, 2010 at:
at the Music Center
Downtown Los Angeles
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Ticket Information: 213-972-4400