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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Theatre review: Mary Poppins bursts with joy and colour

Theatre Under the Stars pulls out all the stops for this family-friendly show

Costumes, choreography, and clever staging all come together in the Theatre Under the Stars production of Mary Poppins.

With everything working together, the result is a family night out bursting with joy and colour. Combined with an ensemble with a seemingly limitless energy, it rockets this tale to life.

The stage musical of Mary Poppins may differ from the Disney film in a few ways, but stays true to its heart. Mary Poppins, played to perfection by the sweet, yet stern, Ranae Miller, remains “practically perfect in every way” as the Banks family slowly learns the only things that truly matter are kindness and time spent with those you love.

Along with Miller, standout performances belong to Victor Hunter as Bert, who builds on last year’s wonderful Lumiere in Beauty & the Beast, with an equally elastic, yet charming, chimney sweep. His friendship with Ranae’s Mary dips a little further into romance than is usual, adding a balanced note of bittersweet goodbye to the otherwise neatly wrapped up family-focused storyline.

Lalainia Lindbjerg-Strelau’s Winifred Banks is captivating in every moment, while Russell Roberts’ Mr. Banks believably oscillates between fastidious and free-wheeling from start to finish.

Both Banks children, played by Lola Marshall and Nolen Dubuc, shine as talents to watch as they continue to grow on the summer stage.

Mary Poppins (Ranae Miller), Bert (Victor Hunter), Jane Banks (Lola Marshall), and Michael Banks (Nolen Dubuc). Photo by Tim Matheson.
Mary Poppins (Ranae Miller), Bert (Victor Hunter), Jane Banks (Lola Marshall), and Michael Banks (Nolen Dubuc). Photo by Tim Matheson.

Ensemble members Joseph Spitale as Robertson Ay, and Cecilia Smith as The Bird Woman cast long shadows in physicality and heart.

Smith’s rendition of “Feed the Birds” trembles forth from her small frame like birdsong itself; it is a plaintive cry bound to reverberate around your head for days.

It is the choreography though that brings this show to the next level. Choreographer Nicol Spinola has shown the Malkin Bowl stage no mercy as the cast pounds away number after number.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time” are a riot of colour and precision, while “Anything Can Happen” lights up history with a magic even the smallest audience member will understand.

For anyone searching for a magical night out with the kids, look no further. Mary Poppins is a delight. Bring a blanket, snuggle up, and get ready to have your heart warmed. Just don’t forget the bug spray.

Mary Poppins. Based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film. Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Book by Julian Fellowes. A Theatre Under the Stars production. On stage at the Malkin Bowl (Stanley Park, Vancouver) until August 19. Visit for tickets and information.

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