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Come and See the Magic of Mary Poppins on Stage

Web posted on March 27, 2013

A review by Sharon Grose

If the inaugural performance of Mary Poppins is s sampling of the calibre of performance we can expect at Dunfield Theatre, the bar has been set high. But then I would expect nothing less from Drayton Entertainment.

The theatre is located in historic Galt (Cambridge) and brings the total number of theatre in the Drayton Theatre empire to seven. The magical musical Mary Poppins is sure to delight both young and old alike.

"The iconic characters, memorable music, and timeless story are brought to life by an all-star cast of outstanding performers," says Artistic Director Alex Mustakas. "The production speaks to all generations of theatregoers, and the reception by audiences has been fantastic."

This turn-of-the-century tale unfolds on Cherry Tree Lane in London, England at the home of George and Winifred Banks. Life is anything but perfect for the Banks family as they search for the ideal caregiver for their two unruly children, Jane and Michael. But things soon begin to change when a mysterious young woman appears on their doorstep and inevitably weaves her way into their lives and hearts.

Scene form Mary Poppins - Photo Courtesy of Sharon Grose

Mary Poppins, (Jaynme Armstrong) a peerless nanny with a penchant for magic, leads the children on memorable adventures and along the way teaches the entire household an invaluable lesson anything can happen if you let it. Armstrong shows no fear as she flies across the stage hooked up to cables with her little umbrella in hand- a perfect Mary Poppins pose indeed.

Mention Mary Poppins and folks think of Julie Andrews in that role, so Armstrong has big shoes to fill. But she manages quite well, her beautiful voice, inner spark, and obvious rapport with the children are a joy to behold on stage. Her performance is simply magical.

Mark Ledbetter makes his Drayton Entertainment debut in this lavish production as the affable chimney sweep, Bert. With a mischievous glint in his eye and a bounce in his step, Ledbetter brings the right combination of charisma, unbridled enthusiasm, and touch of eccentricity to the role. Ledbetter frequently performed the role on Broadway, and his past experience serves him well on Dunfield's stage this spring. 

The household patriarch and finance worker, George Banks, is convincingly portrayed by James Kall. Many of the production's major themes ultimately hinge on the transformation of his character, who must progress from an emotionally distant father preoccupied with work to a contented family man who prizes his wife and children above everything else.  

Jackie Mustakas mines great emotional depth in the role of Winifred Banks, a former actress who struggles to find happiness in a troubled marriage. Her heartfelt soliloquy "Being Mrs. Banks" resonates with authenticity.

The role of the two mischievous children are portrayed by four youngsters. Avery Kadish and Hadley Mustakas share the role of Jane Banks, while Trek Buccino and Jayden Greig take turns as Michael Banks. The actors alternate performances throughout the run. 

Many Drayton Entertainment favourites are also part of this remarkable cast including Keith Savage who brings brilliant comedic timing to multiple characters, with great effect.

Rebecca Poff creates great fun onstage as the mystical Mrs. Corry, who unleashes one of the most unforgettable numbers in the show with an upbeat "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

Karen Wood is suitably shrill as the old battleaxe Mrs. Brill, the Banks' headstrong cook and Jayne Lewis revels in the nastiness of Miss Andrew, nasty Mr. Banks' thick-skinned childhood

The musical's signature tunes like "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Let's Go Fly a Kite" are sure to put a smile on your face.

Mary Poppinsplays until April 28th at the new Dunfield Theatre at 46 Grand Avenue South in Cambridge. Situated in a historic downtown setting along the Grand River, this is a 500-seat theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at www.dunfieldtheatrecambridge.com, in person at the Dunfield Theatre Cambridge Box Office, or by calling (519) 621-8000 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866). Adults are $40, children $20.


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