Madeline Trumble and Con O’Shea-Creal as Mary and Bert

Review: Mary Poppins | Dallas Summer Musicals | Music Hall at Fair Park

Fly Girl

At Dallas Summer Musicals, the tour of a somewhat darker Mary Poppins steps in and out of time.

published Saturday, March 23, 2013
1 comment

It’s only fitting that in a month characterized the advent of spring and plenty of wind, the bubbly and colorful Mary Poppins would breeze into Big D. Dallas Summer Musicals brings the mystical yet mirthful governess in the Tony Award-winning production directed by Richard Eyre back to the Music Hall at Fair Park for a short time.

If you’re embarking on your first visit to the musical but have seen the movie, don’t bother comparing the two—it could cause more frustration or confusion than enjoyment. It’s more of a re-imagined Mary Poppins, rather than a stage adaptation of the original Walt Disney movie, which was originally based on the stories of P.L. Travers. Writer Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) took material from the film and Travers’ books to create a tale with the same narrative structure as the former but with more detail in character and plot. Familiar songs from Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman are adapted and new songs from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe join the party.

The curtain opens on a silhouetted ensemble with Bert (Con O’Shea-Creal) popping out of a chimney to introduce the audience to the Banks family as they lose yet another nanny due to their children’s mischievous behavior. Finding a new one, however, seems to take place in the blink of an eye. As George and Winifred Banks (Chris Hoch and Kerry Conte) attempt to create an ad for a new disciplinarian, Jane and Michael Banks (Madison Mullahey and Eli Tokash) construct their own plea for a nanny of the opposite nature. Their wish is granted in the form of Mary Poppins (Madeline Trumble), who arrives in less time than it took for Mr. Banks to rip up his children’s ad.

Mary treats the children to a series of games and lessons, which hopefully will change their devilish ways. First lesson (one that repeats throughout) is to look past appearances. On that note, park statues come to life (with ballet, nonetheless) and the dreary-colored set quickly dissolves into a feast of brilliant color (“Jolly Holiday”). If any dancers in the audience are wondering why the sheep statues look and move so much like Matthew Bourne’s swans, it’s because he choreographed (along with Stephen Mear) and co-directed.

Later, Mary takes the children to the bank where their father works. Designer Bob Crowley brilliantly utilizes a black and white skewed-perspective backdrop with gray and black-clad workers to marvelously create a stereotypical bank scene. The ensemble’s stiff movements and orderly floor patterns only add to the pretentious setting.

On the way home, the children run into the Bird Woman (“Feed the Birds”) and Mrs. Corry and her “conversation” shop. The latter scene has a convoluted lead-in and a confusing dialogue sequence, but fortunately culminates in one of the most recognizable Disney musical songs (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) and an ingenious dance routine to illustrate it.

Most of these scenes feel somewhat familiar, even if the musical numbers seem out of place, but the biggest departure from the film’s plot comes towards the end of Act I and runs throughout Act II. Unexpected “adieus” and arrivals show a different side of Mary and a new terrifying character is introduced. Family issues and gender roles receive a deeper treatment, but before things get too heavy, the biggest dance number of the show “Step in Time” explodes in our faces with endless energy and even inverted tap dancing. Mary’s work is eventually done when the family rediscovers its joy and she returns to the sky the same way she came. (In this tour, she doesn't fly out through the audience, as in the previous stop in Dallas.)

Performances by Trumble and O’Shea-Creal hit the spot, and Emily Cramer attacks her role as the Mrs. Brill, the cook, with humor and wit. Hoch brings a new side to Mr. Banks, even if he seems a little too passionate and zealous at the beginning. And since Disney does villains so well, it’s no surprise that Karen Murphy captivates with her portrayal of the evil nanny Miss Andrew by her stiff, ghastly demeanor and wide vocal range.

Mullahey and Tokash in the children’s roles are quite impressive, in that they maintain their characters and nail their songs and lines without missing a beat throughout a rather lengthy performance. Mullahey’s accent, however, is a little too forced and it’s difficult to hear her lines and songs, probably due to a combination of her delivery and the amplification.

As far as the story goes, it’s nice to see more complexity in the characters through an extended plot, but it creates a long show and at times seems to overwork an already simple tale. A dark new musical number on the importance of taking care of your toys (“Playing the Game”) makes things a little too creepy.

The dancing and musical numbers make up for the faults, and the delightfully thrilling theatrical effects add the perfect finishing touch. Visually, the production is “practically perfect” and should be a joyful treat for people of all ages. Thanks For Reading


corey writes:
Friday, March 29 at 6:27PM

Saw Mary Poppins and was disappointed in the musical changes compared to the film. Have to disagree with you as well as the 6 people who I accompanied with to the show. We were all irritated by the vocal performance from Madeline Trumble as Mary Poppins. Her high pitched vocals were like nails on a chalkboard for us. The whole thing was ruined from me with the lyric changes to Supercalifragalicious...because my favorite lyrics were omitted. Those lyrics being "Because I was afraid to speak When I was just a lad, My father gave me nose a tweak And told me I was bad But then one day I learned a word That saved me achin’ nose ...." Now if I had something to save my achin' hearing.

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Fly Girl
At Dallas Summer Musicals, the tour of a somewhat darker Mary Poppins steps in and out of time.
by Cheryl Callon

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :