Disney’s “Mary Poppins” has a reputation for delighting audiences young and old with its lovable characters, optimistic story and family-focused life lessons.
Thanks to a bit of magic, both classic and new tunes and a “spoonful of sugar,” the beloved story comes to life on the CenterPoint Legacy Theatre stage through March 25.
The title role is shared on alternating nights by Sarah Jane Watts and Natalie Peterson, both of whom are veterans to the CPT stage. Watts, who performed on the show’s opening night, stole the show with her witty deliveries and engaging acting. She played and sang the part of Mary Poppins with grace and dignity as she worked to mend the Banks family.
George and Winifred Banks have two lovable, yet very rambunctious, children named Jane and Michael. The children have driven away every nanny who has set foot in their house. When the children write a letter in search of a new nanny, it ends up in the hands of Mary Poppins. However, Mary Poppins isn’t just any nanny — she is a magical nanny whose mission is to teach the family that “anything can happen if you let it.”
Throughout her time in the Banks home, Mary Poppins teaches the entire family the importance of gratitude, optimism and loving one another. As each family member fights his or her personal battles, they learn nothing is more important than the goodness of relationships.
Featuring familiar musical numbers from the Disney film such as “Jolly Holiday,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Feed the Birds” and “Step in Time,” the show also includes new numbers such as “Anything Can Happen,” “Practically Perfect” and “Being Mrs. Banks.”
Angie Call, who plays the role of Winifred Banks in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast, portrayed her character with incredible depth and emotion. Combined with a powerful vocal performance, Call proved to be another powerhouse on the CPT stage. Scott Montgomery (M/W/F) was stern and believable as the money-driven George Banks, yet he quickly became fun-loving after his change of heart.
Shayla Florence and Ben Roylance played the roles of Jane and Michael Banks (M/W/F). Despite being younger than the rest of the cast, the children successfully moved the story along without missing a beat. With perfect comedic timing and strong vocal solos, Shayla and Ben quickly won over the audience with their charm and talent.
Bert, the chimney sweep whose purpose is to narrate and facilitate the story, was played by Craig Williams (M/W/F). Williams made his character stand out as a kind and lovable force in the show. As the glue of the show, his energy and passion throughout the performance made for a smooth and well-connected storyline.
Additional comedic acting came from Megan Call and Bradley Howell, who played the roles of Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay (M/W/F), the Banks family’s servants. The endearing duo provided timely comedic relief during the more serious scenes and laced the production with occasional slapstick humor.
Another notable aspect of this production of “Mary Poppins” was the abundance of impressive technical elements. Not only would sections of the stage rise up to portray rooftops, but the backdrop was also digitally interactive to each scene. From Mary Poppins pulling a coat hanger out of her magical bag to Jane and Michael getting sucked up their fireplace, the performers made technical-heavy scenes look smooth and effortless.
Overall, the production was visually bright, uplifting and full of magic. The talent both onstage and backstage was phenomenal, and the message of the show is perfect for audiences of all ages.
Content advisory: “Mary Poppins” contains a few adult characters who treat children poorly. According to the theater’s website, only children ages 3 and older may attend the performances.