Review: 'Mary Poppins' at North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA - Creatively directed and choreographed by North Shore Music Theatre Artistic Director Kevin P. Hill, the Disney classic Mary Poppins is brought to life in the unique theatre-in-the-round by a talented cast and a little bit of technical magic. It is the story of a “Practically Perfect” nanny who flies into the home and hearts of the Banks family who, up to that point, had not been able to keep a nanny thanks to the two mischievous children. But with a little help from Mary, the family learns there is more to life than “Precision and Order”.
Taking on the role of Mary Poppins is the wonderful Kerry Conte. Her lovely vocals, sharp wit and strong comedic timing make her perfect for this role. Playing her dear friend Bert is the animated Brad Bradley whose smooth voice pairs nicely with Conte. His talents shined further as he sang and danced his way through “Step In Time”. Also paired nicely were James Andrew Walsh as George Banks and Molly Garner as Winifred Banks. Their children, Jane and Michael, were adorably played by Scarlett Keene-Connole and Jake Ryan Flynn. Neleus, a statue in the park who unexpectedly comes to life in front of the Banks children, was superbly played by Brad Trump who danced and flipped across the stage with precision and graceful ease. Ellen Peterson and Brian Padgett were amusing as Banks family staff Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay.
Crisp choreography was featured best in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, which was a colorful, explosion of energetic dancing and amazingly outrageous costumes (coordinated and designed by Mark Nagle). It was certainly a highlight of act one. Later in act two, “Step In Time” was a tapping extravaganza and a clear audience favorite. The expressive faces of the cast, especially during those two numbers, make it clear that they love performing this show.
Besides Mary Poppins flying over the audience and across the stage on a number of occasions, another favorite technical aspect of this production was the scenic design by Bert Scott and his creative use of scrims designed to be the London skyline that hung above the audience on the outskirts of the stage. Projected onto them were various moving effects such as butterflies in “Jolly Holiday” and snow in the top of act two. These added effects boosted the magical atmosphere of the overall production.
While not all technical aspects panned out as planned, the audience, including dozens of children and families thoroughly enjoyed the performance. And in the end that’s what counts.
Mary Poppins plays Tuesdays-Sundays through July 31st. Children under 18 save 50% at all evening performances. For tickets or more information visit www.nsmt.org , call 978-232-7200 or visit the box office in person at 62 Dunham Rd. Beverly, MA.
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