Productions at the Hippodrome are always breath-taking, but Mary Poppins just seemed to go that extra mile. We don’t know how they did it (it may have been the magical set or the tap dancing on the ceiling) but it was our favourite performance yet. We entered the theatre full of anticipation, wondering whether Cameron Mackintosh’s musical would do any justice to the beloved Disney classic. It in fact went above and beyond our expectations. The stage production followed the film’s storyline closely and included the wonderful songs that are so well known. Alongside this, Matthew Bourne’s dazzling choreography really was the cherry on the cake. Each dance routine was extremely slick and exciting to watch which was especially impressive with such a large cast.
Zizi Strallen oozed talent in her portrayal of the widely loved Mary Poppins. Despite the role being so well known, Zizi truly made it her own with the perfect balance between kind and strict, serious and comical. Besides being a genuinely talented actress, she had a spectacular voice and a flair for dance. She was a pleasure to watch and carried the show brilliantly. However, for us, the real star of the show was Matt Lee who played the character of Bert. He had a certain sparkle and we couldn’t tear our eyes away from him. We were thoroughly impressed with his tap dancing, especially when it extended to the four walls of the proscenium arch! Matt played the character of Bert with a certain charm and cheekiness that made the musical that extra bit engaging.
Bob Crowley did an incredible job with the set design. He brought No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane to life as it unfolded before us, resembling a life-sized dollhouse. The kitchen and children’s nursery left us dumbfounded as Mary Poppins fixed broken shelves and crockery as well as fishing out sizable objects from her bottomless bag. One of the most glorious numbers was Step In Time, where the aforementioned suspended tap routine was carried out. The moving town-house roof top skyline set was enhanced by the superb lighting design – alongside the fantastically choreographed company, this was definitely one of our favourite scenes. Rebecca Lock’s performance as Mrs Banks should be commended – she was delightful and her voice is striking.
Whilst the play carried an air of joyfulness throughout, there was certainly some heart breaking moments such as the Feed The Birds number. The final scene was rather moving as the Banks family finally came together and bid Mary farewell – a tear or two were definitely shed. There was no other way to end the performance than having her exit by flying out over the audience with her umbrella, never ceasing to let the audience forget how magical she is. All in all the production was spectacular and as Mary Poppins herself would say, it was ‘supercallifragilisticexpialidocious’!