The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Review: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins at the Palace Theatre Manchester is a magical and breath-taking rendition of the Disney classic, with new twists and turns


“Practically perfect in every way”

Everyone has watched, or at least heard, the story of Mary Poppins. It’s a timeless classic. Zizi Strallen takes on the role of the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins and is wonderful. It isn’t easy to take on this iconic lead, especially since the role has become synonymous with Julie Andrews, yet Strallen succeeds in bringing poise and elegance to the magical character. Mary Poppins isn’t the only iconic character. Matt Lee steps into the shoes of Dick Van Dyke’s character, Bert. Lee brings energy and exceptional dance performances, whilst perfectly encapsulating the cheeky chappy character.

However, this wasn’t a show driven solely by the leads; instead it is the liveliness and spirit of the entire cast that leads to a show-stopping performance. The feel good sentiment of the show is infectious. This was particularly seen in the rendition of ‘Step in Time’, which was certainly a highlight of the entire show.

The production was spectacular. Seamless group dance sequences, extraordinary vocals, and an unbelievable tap dancing sequence around the proscenium by Bert. The Banks children brought mischief and produced a nearly flawless performance between them. Wendy Ferguson was magnificent and had exceptional comic timing playing the role of Mrs Brill, one of the Banks’ employees, and produced a standout performance. The entire cast brought the magical story to life, which broke the fourth wall and engrossed the audience.

The production wasn’t the same old rendition of film, but added new dimensions. New characters were introduced, such as the villainous Miss Andrews, the strict nanny. Or the vibrant and sassy Mrs Correy, who owns a conversation shop. The show featured new songs, alongside classics such as ‘The Perfect Nanny’ and ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’.  Rebecca Lock performs a heartfelt and vocally excellent performance of ‘Being Mrs Banks’—a new song. The show also presented a darker side to the story, which made the redemption of characters that much more rewarding, as they learn the error of their ways.

The show was vibrant and energetic, showcasing the impossible and the audience’s imagination. There were bright vibrant sets that brought the park sequences to life. The entire set design was incredible and nothing short of magic. The set changes were flawless and dynamic, as the Banks’ family home resolved and transformed as simply as a child’s doll house. The production was incredibly creative, illustrated through the attention to detail from Mary Poppins iconic peacock umbrella to the costumes of the statues and toys that came to life.

As a result, the show was rewarded by spontaneous applause throughout and left the audience wondering how set pieces were created, if not by magic. The show is definitely not one to miss. It’s a feel good classic with added dimensions, which leaves you with the feeling that ‘Anything can happen’.