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Practically perfect in every way! (Review)

It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary dance number.
It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary dance number.

Mary Poppins has just flown in at the Birmingham Hippodrome – and with a heavyweight collaborative pairing of Cameron Mackintosh and Disney, behind it, expectations were understandably very high.

But, preparing for curtain up I felt an uneasiness. As a life-long fan of the film (and Julie Andrews), was the theatrical transition of this iconic musical going to leave me feeling crestfallen?

Well, I needn’t have worried. And, unlike Miss Poppins, who “never explains anything” I will elaborate.

Just like the central character herself, this production sweeps in and out of your life like a whirlwind, bringing a temporary gift but leaving a very lasting impression. It leaves one with a warming glow for the journey home and looks set to live in the heart of this reviewer for a long time to come. (I’m still humming the tunes!)

The clever staging provides a magical backdrop the adaptation deserves, accompanied by the most stunning choreography. I don’t want to put too many spoilers in but, let’s just say, the theatre proved no barrier for the ambitious dance routines so synonymous with this show! This is a production worthy of the Disney name.

The wonderful musical numbers are the cherry on the cake of this slick and effervescent production. From the familiar A Spoonful of Sugar and Chim Chim Cher-ee to the new, Practically Perfect and Being Mrs Banks, they are delivered with real power and emotion.

As for the cast. What can one say? Penelope Woodman is brilliantly horrid as the Holy Terror Miss Andrew and Rebecca Lock was on the money as Mrs Banks while Jabez Cheeseman and Georgie Hill were word perfect as young Michael and Jane Banks, one of six pairings of children rotated for the show. Matt Lee is a delight as the cheeky chirpy chimney sweep always at Mary’s side.

Zizi Strallen, if not known before, will certainly be making a name for herself in this role. As Mary Poppins she is ‘practically perfect in every way!’

Ms Strallen, the neice of Bonnie Langford, certainly share’s her aunt’s talent. But one senses this young lady will be carving out a success story of her own. Her dancing, singing and acting were all spit spot! And I owe her a debt a gratitude for keeping my own personal Poppins magic alive. For so many the question remained - how does one follow Julie Andrews? Come to Birmingham and find out!

Hurry down to the Hippodrome before Mary flies off again on April 23rd.

I promise you won’t regret it.

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