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5* Review: Mary Poppins – The Palace Theatre

As the 1964 film is a childhood favourite of mine I was extremely excited to have the opportunity of seeing the stage show at the Palace Theatre Manchester last night.

The Cameron Mackintosh production surpassed my expectations and was practically perfect in every way!

The magical story begins when the show opens on the Banks’ family home on Cherry Tree Lane.

The children Jane and Michael are proving a handful and the family need a new nanny so when Mary Poppins (Zizi Strallen) blows in on the wind – yes she even flies – it would appear this woman who is full of unusual talents will be the perfect choice for the job.

Along with her old friend Bert (Matt Lee) the audience is welcomed into their lives – which are about to change forever.

There are slight deviations to the original storyline that is beautifully told by a extremely talented cast.

I was a little disappointed that the crazy uncle floating around after drinking a potion and then having to think sad thoughts to return to the ground wasn’t included – it would definitely work well on stage.  

I was very impressed with the children playing Jane and Michael who captured the essence of their characters brilliantly and didn’t once waver in what is a particularly long show at over two and a half hours. 

Mary Poppins is played with great stage presence and vigour; the auditorium really lights up when she enters.

George and Winifred Banks are also well cast along with Bert bearing a uncanny resemblance to Dick Van Dyke and along with the supporting cast they make up a fantastic ensemble.

The scene constructions are truly incredible, at times literally jaw dropping. There are some pretty cool special effects too.

The era is brought to life even more so with the elaborate costumes changing frequently and setting each scene.

Each of the numbers has its own feel: ‘Jolly Holiday’ was a firm favourite of mine going from a dull dismal park to array of beautiful colours in the blink of a eye.

‘Step in Time’ gave the cast a chance to show off some out-of-this-world tap dancing, while the song probably best known from the Julie Andrews film version, the catchy ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, left me grinning from ear to ear.

Myself and my 13-year-old granddaughter found ourselves singing along and thoroughly enjoying the chance to join in.

There a few new songs included but I felt on the whole pretty forgettable. With such a classic as Mary Poppins in my option they are not needed.

The grand finale is literally Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Book those tickets now, you won’t be disappointed.

Mary Poppins is on at The Palace Theatre Manchester until Saturday 5 March.

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