Last night, I had the privilege of watching the live musical Mary Poppins at the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts.
I think this was one of my favorite shows so far. There’s probably a lot of reasons why I enjoyed this show so much, but I think that my absolute favorite part of the entire musical last night was the costumes. I think it says a lot about the amount of time and artistic talent that continues to go into the costuming for the musicals I see down at Thalian Hall because the costumes have been pretty spectacular for every show I’ve seen.
Here’s what I mean.
The stage is set up with several chimney walls going across the entire stage. When you enter the hall and find your seat, the orchestra is hidden underneath the stage, so really, the first indication as to what kind of show you’re likely to get is once the house lights dim and the stage lights focus on the characters. At that point, the music comes on and the tone for the production is set. So when the first character on stage is a chimney sweep named Burt, who is authentically dressed in slacks, a nice shirt with a vest, and a cabby hat, you know that every care has been taken with the production of this show.
The scenery in this show was also fantastic. One of the early scenes had a backdrop that covered the whole stage and was a wonderful artwork of leaves and painted trees. The amount of time and effort put into the sets was astonishing. The main set, with the inside of the house on Cherry Lane, was marvelous. Actual stairs went up the back portion of the stage and the characters would go upstairs to the children’s room and actually go off stage that way.
The costumes were fabulously done. I can’t say that enough. The scene with Mary Poppins, Michael, Jane, and Burt in the park was pretty spectacular. The characters walk on scene with several large, brick walls and a statue in the park. I honestly thought the statue was a real statue until Cornelius came to life. And then there were a ton of dancing statues and I was amazed because of all the time and effort the coordination of all those costumes must have taken. Making that many people into realistic-looking statues must have been a time-consuming project. Plus, finding that much silver and gray fabric and the face paint? It was fabulous. Of course, I felt fairly badly for the Poseidon statue at the end of the production because it was probably no easy task holding that trident out and absolutely still.
The chimney sweep scene was probably my favorite out of all of the dance numbers, and that’s mostly because of how intricate and energetic that scene was. I do have personal bias here, though, because the “Chimney Sweep” song has always been my favorite from Mary Poppins. I really liked the classic, chimney sweep costumes and the tap shoes, though.
Another great part about the costumes happened during the scene about conversations. I have never seen so many brightly-colored, fantastic suits before. There were bright blue suits and dresses, orange suits and dresses, yellow suits and dresses and so many others. The artists on stage danced and sang with such energy that it kind of made me envious of them and I wished that I could be on stage with them. They really brought out the fun in all of the songs and I found myself humming and dancing a bit in my seat during all of their songs.
Speaking of dancing, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was a fantastic song. The music was fantastic and addictive throughout the entire presentation and the orchestra did a great job with all the songs. The amount of choreography combined with the bright and beautiful costumes with the superbly done music really showed off the best parts of live musicals, in my opinion.
It’s hard to choose a favorite part of this musical because so much of it was fantastic. The artists on stage did a fantastic job with their characters and character development. I could see so much of the story based on what the characters conveyed with their body language. Everyone was authentic and clear with all of their singing and speaking roles. Everyone on stage did such a fabulous job that it was easy to suspend reality and get caught up in the story.
I think that overall, this play will rank a four on my rating scale. I would happily go see it again and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to spend a nice night out at a classic theater.