OPINION — Since its splashy Broadway revival 10 years ago Disney’s “Mary Poppins” has been a hit wherever it lands including successful national tours and high school iterations throughout the country. So why see the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s version? Because it’s “practically perfect,” of course.
This show by no means relies completely on the titular character portrayed in this version by statuesque Elizabeth Broadhurst who not only brings National Touring credits but whose facial profile bears a striking resemblance to the iconic Julie Andrews. But Broadhurst’s lengthy stage experience as the most beloved nanny ever isn’t a handicap; her take is fresh and lively, her pish-posh matter-of-fact charm is a delight offering a wonderful voice to match.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production differs slightly from the Broadway version deleting some numbers and technical tricks (no ceiling walk for Bert, sorry) but even at two hours and 40 minutes, director Karen Azenberg keeps things taut and well-paced and uses a terrific cast to sell the most important aspect of the stage revival: the empathy towards Mr. Banks (a superbly convincing Chris Mixon) who suffers an identity crisis as a failed businessman and disconnected father.
Kudos especially to the scene-stealing Banks children, Jane (Mila Belle Howells) and Michael (Andrew Barrick), for their well-timed and expressive line deliveries, solid portrayals of Bert (Eddie Lopez) and Mrs. Banks (Susanna Florence) that anchor the production ever so nicely; and the polished portrayals of Mrs. Brill (Peggy O’Connell) and the bank chairman (Michael A. Harding), which are a hoot.
Speaking of fun, Bree Murphy’s histrionic take on Miss Andrew is an unabashed crowd-pleaser.
The costumes are divine – the show-stopping numbers do just that – so while Disney’s “Mary Poppins” may be as ubiquitous as ever, the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s refreshingly refined version offers a spoonful of sweetness instead of an excess of extravagance to get the job done.
• Event details and resources follow below •
- What: Utah Shakespeare Festival’s “Mary Poppins”
- When: July 2-Sept. 3 in revolving repertory with other shows
- Where: Randall L. Jones Theatre, 299 W. Center St., Cedar City
- Ticket price: $32 to $73, with discounts for groups, students and seniors | detailed information here
- Ticket purchase: By telephone 800-PLAYTIX or 800-752-9849 | online www.bard.org
- Resources: Printable The Beverley Sorenson Center for the Arts Site Map
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