I walked into the Carl J. Rondina Performing Arts Center last night with high expectations for the opening night performance of the Broadway musical Mary Poppins. The musical is based on the classic stories from P. L. Travers and the Walt Disney film. Though not a sold out performance, the audience was enthusiastic as they took their seats and the lights dimmed.
A beautifully painted curtain depicting the stairs and front door of the Bank’s home on Cherry Tree Lane hung down over the stage. As soon as Bert (Timmy Chase) stepped onto the stage and began the prologue, I knew that the audience was in for a treat. From his opening line to his final flying flip, Timmy Chase was absolutely brilliant. He reminded me of the great Dick Van Dyke, who, alongside the unparalleled Julie Andrews in Walt Disney’s film, brought Bert and Mary Poppins to life. It’s been just over fifty years since Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews sang and danced their way into our hearts as these charming and wonderful characters.
While no one could ever surpass the original, in this musical production, Timmy Chase as Bert and Caroline Flynn as Mary Poppins came very close and were “Practically Perfect.” Caroline with her clear, beautiful voice brought joy, laughter and pure fun every time she walked or rather flew onto the stage. Although both are graduating this year from Chelmsford High, these two young performers are ones to watch for in the coming years. I am sure, if last night’s show is any indication, that we’ve not seen the last of their incredible talent for them, high school is only the beginning.
Other highlights include wonderful choreography by student choreographers and lead dancers: Amanda LoCoco, Taylor Erikson and Marisa Getchell. I especially want to commend them on their work on the ensemble pieces of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time”. Both pieces are energetically up-tempo and can be intimidating to even the most experienced choreographers yet these ladies nailed it; with quick and inventive arm movements during “Supercal…” and strong, clear tapping in “Step in Time”, these young choreographers had the entire audience clapping and cheering throughout each number.
Though no production is without its slip-ups, Chelmsford High’s ambitious production of Mary Poppins is a fun and charming night out. Surely, with Caroline Flynn and Timmy Chase leading the way as Mary Poppins and Bert, it is certain to have a weekend full of well-deserved standing ovations.
Mary Poppins is playing through Saturday May 9th at the Carl J. Rondina Performing Arts Center in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.showclix.com/event/MaryPoppins5245257