“Mary Poppins” at Music Circus

When I heard that Music Circus was going to attempt “Mary Poppins” in the round this summer, I had the same reaction that I find myself having every time they announce a show that seems perhaps too ambitious. How are they going to manage THAT?

With elaborate sets and special effects in the traditional proscenium show, I just didn’t think “Mary Poppins” was going to translate well to a circular theater.

I was wrong.

I really ought to trust Music Circus (in particular director Glenn Casale when he’s handed a Disney show) a bit more, because they have absolutely managed the aforementioned THAT with their fabulous production of “Mary Poppins.”

It is as good as anything I’ve seen in Sacramento. Ever.

Kelly McCormick is absolutely fabulous as the show’s title character, balancing a certain lightheartedness and sense of propriety, all while singing and dancing beautifully. Robert Creighton as Bert is charming and wins the audience over right from the start. It’s hard to evade comparison to Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in these two iconic roles, but I found myself so engaged in their performances that I didn’t have time to think “huh, well, Andrews/Van Dyke did it differently,” which is really saying something.

Jane and Michael Banks, the two children in the show, are played by Noa Solorio and Ben Ainley-Zoll respectively. They are both top-notch. Solorio, in particular, was “on” for Saturday night’s performance, but Ainley-Zoll held up his end of the show very well.

George and Winifred Banks are played by David Engel and Shannon Warne, and both give solid performances. The other supporting characters (specifically Joël René as Mrs. Corry, Ruth Gottschall as Miss Andrew, and Ron Wisniski as both Admiral Boom and the Bank Chairman) are very well-done. The ensemble also gave an excellent collective performance.

The orchestra, led by conductor Dennis Castellano, was fabulous (as is the norm for Music Circus performance. I tend to take them for granted, so allow me to state for the record: Orchestra, I love you)!

Costumes designed by Marcy Froelich are beautiful. When doing shows in the round, I think it’s easy to forget how important the costumes are. When you are limited to minimal sets, most of your scene-setting has to come from lighting and clothing to give the audience a sense of time and place. Froelich’s costumes give us just that while nodding to the outfits worn in the 1964 film without making carbon copies.

I would absolutely tell you to go buy yourself a ticket to this show – it’s well worth the price – but, sadly, there are only two more performances (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow) and they both are sold out according to the Music Circus website. However, let us tuck away this information for upcoming seasons: trust Glenn Casale with the Disney shows, and buy tickets early.

For photos, video, and additional information on “Mary Poppins” click HERE.

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