The practically perfect Mary Poppins took the Capitol Theatre stage last night, and Claire Haile portrays the beloved role with aplomb.
Based on the 1964 Disney movie and the book series by P.L. Travers, “Mary Poppins” revolves around the Banks family, particularly on their two naughty children, Michael and Jane. Having gone through a series of nannies, the mysterious Mary Poppins shows up to right the ship.
Dante Pereto gave a first-rate performance as the narrator of this classic tale, Bert. Other favorites were the exasperated housekeeper Mrs. Brill and clumsy, well-meaning butler Robertson Ay, portrayed by Amanda Dunlap and Derek Sager, respectively. Adept performances were given by the entire Banks family — Shane Archer Reed (George Banks), Jennifer Reynolds Wratten (Winifred Banks), Allie Kiesel (Jane Banks), Adam Dunlap (Michael Banks). I also want to give a “shoutout” to Denise Morganti and her lovely representation of the iconic Bird Woman.
Andy Frank and Lynn Angell deserve “props” for the simple yet versatile set, especially for the clever kitchen construction.
This production has some slightly rougher edges than the classic Disney adaptation.
In “Playing the Game,” Mary Poppins is aghast at how poorly the children treat their toys, and decides the toys should have a chance to express their feelings on the matter.
While children often like a creepy tale, and treating your toys with respect is an important lesson, I’m not sure highlighting the scene with deep red lighting was the best choice. Maybe this is just a problem for adults who have seen too many horror movies with dolls and clowns as a central theme. But a more subtle lighting choice such as blue or purple might have shifted the scene away from Stephen King territory, while still giving it a sense of gravitas.
That aside, the witty quips and familiar musical numbers made for a truly enjoyable night at the theater.
Part of the Capitol’s SummerStage series, “Mary Poppins - The Musical” will return to the stage tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The theater is located at 220 W. Dominick St. Reserved seat tickets are $17, $16 for seniors/students/military, $15 for Capitol Friends and $12 for children 12 and under. Call 315-337-6453 for more information.