Disney and Cameron Mackintosh Mary Poppins. Scots School Albury – March 2017. Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. New songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Book by Julian Fellows. Co-created by Cameron Mackintosh.
Brought to the stage of the cavernous but rather wonderful Chapel Hall in the grounds of the school by Director Liz Heitmeyer, Mary Poppins opens with the enigmatic Bert (played by Caleb Murray) whose perfect pitch and confident stage presence (and a little acrobatics at the end) anchors the performance throughout the almost two and half hours of stage time. Beautifully supported by Mary (Imogen Hanlon) whose wonderful harmonies and ability to act the range of emotions required for the role, complemented Bert’s playful, and at times quirky, demeanour.
The requirement to audition was obvious, with an excellent supporting cast, most notably the young Jane (Meg Paterson) and Michael (Archie Myers), always spot on with their timing and excellent singing, Miss Andrews (Claire Murray) for frightening a few of the younger audience members, and Elena Griffiths as the Bird Woman for beautifully singing what I think is probably the most difficult song of the show. However for my money the most well-acted parts were those of Mr Banks (Fergus Patterson) and Mrs Banks (Emily Bell), who both needed to be able to act the full range of emotions from “stiff upper lip” in the first half of the show, and then remorse, contrition and repentance as the story develops to where Banks is redeemed because of his morally sound decision to trust in humanity, rather than money. Quite the moral for a school show.
The audience favourites, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Let’s Go Fly a Kite were fabulously delivered by the principles and well backed up by the enthusiastic ensemble – who although did not have to audition, were well rehearsed in both singing and choreography (including a Village People-esq rendition of the letters of Supercali) and clearly enjoyed their time on stage. Excellent costuming, lighting and sound, and simple but perfectly formed set design, with the transition from bedroom to roof top my favourite, belies the fact that this was a school production. All of this supported by the note perfect full orchestra of students, teachers, parents and friends. And yes Mary (and Bert) fly, and while the mechanism was obvious, for a school production to go to those lengths just underlines the creativity that the team was able to bring.
The Scots School production of Mary Poppins is another in the long list of wonderfully produced and acted senior school productions, and is quite possibly their best so far. We can only look forward to what 2018 will bring.
Want to contribute to Ratnews? Learn how to publish your review or story about theatre in Regional Australia – Click here to find out more