Let’s go fly a kite

A couple of weekends ago I made the trek to Brisbane to see Mary Poppins. Not in person obviously. She’s a fictional character. Rather, this was the musical. Much lauded. Much praised. I had been told by many people that I would “love” it. So I was looking forward to seeing it but I was also a little hesitant. You know when Margaret and David give a movie five stars and then you and see it and think “meh…3 and a half from me actually”. What I’m saying is that when someone tells me I’m going to love something I always start to worry. WHAT IF I DON’T LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I’M SUPPOSED TO? WHAT ABOUT THAT? So, what did I think about the Poppinses? Well, spectacular chorus numbers. Excellent and impressive special effects. The set was wonderful. The leads were good. I was particularly impressed that the guy from So You think You Can Dance who played Bert actually could dance…Really Well! I even got a lump in my throat when Mary Poppins “flew” out across the audience at the end. Shush…that’s not a spoiler…we all know she leaves. So it was very good. But there were things that weren’t quite right. For one, the balance between the orchestra and the singers was a little out. Brass…I’m sorry…you were too loud. And the girl playing Jane got a bit shrieky at times in her microphone. And I just didn’t love Simon Burke as Mr Banks. Perhaps it was the part? I’m not sure. And I didn’t love the “new” songs. As a child my parents had a limited record collection. One of the LPs (showing my age here) was the original cast recording from the Disney movie with Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke. Now I know his accent still remains unforgivable as the cockney Bert but I loved the suffragette songs of Mrs Banks. Why was she suddenly made into a wannabe actress in the stage version? Are we not able to cope with a little bit of lightweight feminism in a musical? I found this a strange choice. Also, the letter that Jane and Michael sing before Mary Poppins arrive was way too fast. I like it slower and more thoughtful as in the film. Now, I understand that translating a film to the stage means there will be differences, certain things are not possible (dancing animated penguins for instance) but for the life of me the thing that bugged me the most was that they didn’t finish with Let’s Go Fly a Kite. It’s my favourite moment in the film. It’s the perfect ending as the family go out into the street and everyone lives happily ever after even without Mary Poppins. Why chuck it in the middle in some half-hearted fashion? It just wasn’t quite right either. And then I realised…because I had listened to the original soundtrack so often, because I have watched the film so many times, perhaps it’s not possible for me to fully embrace the stage show in the same way as say, a young child today who hasn’t had the original version ingrained into their brain. That’s okay. I still liked it. I just didn’t LOVE it.


2 Responses to “Let’s go fly a kite”

  1. 2paw says:

    Dick van Dyke’s accent is truly appalling, isn’t it? Definitely not truly scrumptious. (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!!!) I am sad that the musical was likeable, but not loveable. The ending of the film was perfect, they didn’t need MP any more.I think you are right, though, you can’t go back. Some memories are sacrosanct and musicals shouldn’t play fast and loose with them. Thanks for the video, I found I knew all the words without the subtitles, signs of a well spent youth I think!!

  2. Emma says:

    I must say I didn’t enjoy the show as much in Brisbane as Melbourne. It may have to do with the whole atmosphere and experience that is Melbourne. The third time I saw it, I was in the dress circle and couldn’t see a thing and was bored…too far back for my liking! You can’t see all their facial expressions etc, which I love! How great would it be to play Mary Poppins!?

    I agree about Simon Burke…he wasn’t quite right as Mr Banks and I much preferred Philip Quast.

    I enjoyed it more than the film though, because the characterisations and plot are much closer to the book/s.

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