‘Mary Poppins’ provides magical moments on stage

Musical is delightful adaptation of classic movie fare

Posted 12/18/18

Cherry Tree Lane is spelled out by a pair of large pink-blossoming trees, painted at the front edges of Vintage Theatre’s wide stage, for “Mary Poppins.” Bert (a chipper, engaging Kalond …

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‘Mary Poppins’ provides magical moments on stage

Musical is delightful adaptation of classic movie fare

Posted

Cherry Tree Lane is spelled out by a pair of large pink-blossoming trees, painted at the front edges of Vintage Theatre’s wide stage, for “Mary Poppins.” Bert (a chipper, engaging Kalond Irlanda), the cheerful Cockney chimney sweep/narrator, appears singing and introduces the scene and the Banks family — who have gone through six nannies in the past four months, due to unruly Michael and Jane. (We saw talented Nathaniel Waite-Lutz and Hazel Kachline, both Denver School of the Arts students, in the double-cast role.) Kerri Emswiller is the bewildered mom, Winnifred, and Michael O’Shea is the pompous father, George.

As lights go up, an angry former nanny storms out and two smug, grinning kids stand on the stair landing, watching. Mom is in tears and Dad mutters “Nannies should govern!” The banker also says “I remain the sovereign of Cherry Tree Lane.” No wonder there’s trouble!

The kids write up a new ad to place in the newspaper, stating what sort of nanny they’d like to see in the position, and poof! A smiling woman with a carpet bag and umbrella with a green parrot head on its handle appears — carrying a copy of the kids’ ad and repeating some of their requirements.

She introduces herself and says she’s come to care for the children, whom she quickly lines up for a dose from a pink bottle. “A Spoonful of Sugar makes the Medicine Go Down” she sings, then tells Michael and Jane to head upstairs, “Spit! Spot!” She follows them and the magic journey begins for this disturbed family, as Mary pulls a tall hat rack, teapot and cup, green plant and other items she needs out of her magic carpet bag … (which is empty when the kids peer in).

Readers will be familiar with the story, so what they need to know is that Vintage Theatre in Aurora is staging a delightful musical version, based on the books and popular Disney movie. If you are fortunate enough to have young ones in your life, take them to see it. (If not, go anyhow!) “Mary Poppins” runs through Jan. 6.

Caroline Lohr, who makes magic in a classroom by day, plays Mary Poppins with a gleam in her eyes, a brisk manner and a great voice. She really is the magical nanny I imagined years ago when this was a favorite book for me.

Mary, and the also magic Bert — her good friend, it turns out — lead Michael and Jane on the first of several magical outings, to the nearby park, where the familiar classical statues, including Neleus (Andy Nuanhgam), begin to dance with them and the Bird Woman enters the scene. “Feed the Birds … ..Tuppence a Bag.” When they return home, Jane says “Daddy, we had a fantastic day — I danced with a statue and met Queen Victoria!”

Household servants Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay are also astonished as Mary makes lavender frosting appear on a cake and broken dishes whole before they jump back on the shelf. Another adventure involves Mrs. Corry and a colorfully costumed, dancing group of friends, wearing pastel wigs And, it’s where we are introduced to a new word — and song: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Work by a large creative team made this standout production flow ... Director Clay White is to be commended for concocting this sugar plum of a holiday entertainment for us. He directed “Beauty and the Beast” at Vintage, but is fairly recently arrived on our scene, from Texas. We’ll hope to enjoy more of his imaginative work. And the very clever set, designed by Ryan Walkoviak and painted by Julie Lemieux, with Kevin Taylor’s lighting, enhanced Kortney Hanson’s special effects. Costumes by Cheryl Faulkner and Angie Biederbecke were colorful and so imaginative and Eric Weinstein’s recorded music tracks carried it all along. Adrianne Hampton was choreographer and Brooks Larsen, musical director, while stage manager Lexi Holtzer kept all the pieces together …

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