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Mary Poppins' takes flight in Ellsworth

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The Grand presents the musical version of the classic tale

ELLSWORTH Everyone's favorite flying English nanny has landed in Ellsworth.

The Grand is presenting their production of 'Disney's Mary Poppins.' Directed by Michael Weinstein and music directed by Dana Ross, the show runs at the Grand through Nov. 1.

Bringing such a large production to fruition is a significant undertaking. Scale is important with this kind of musical. But the folks at the Grand Weinstein, Ross, the show's artistic director Ken Stack, producer Gail Thompson have proven in the past that they are unafraid to accept these sorts of challenges.

And the end result?Something unforgettable.

It's the story that we all know and love. The Banks family father George (Will Stephenson) and mother Winifred (Mary Ellms), along with children Jane (Emma Campbell) and Michael (Drew Pierson) is in the market for a new nanny since the children have chased off yet another one. It seems that everyone is dreadfully unhappy.

And then, like a bolt from the blue, Mary Poppins (Kate Hall) arrives. She brings with her a sense of wonder and magic that the Banks household sorely needs. She along with her dear friend Bert (Zach Smith) takes the children on wonderful adventures while also helping their parents understand just what is most important in life.

Everyone that Mary Poppins touches is changed for the better; her presence helps the Banks family come together, overcoming their issues and rediscovering the love that was there all along.

Any discussion of this show has to begin with the titular character. Mary Poppins is an iconic figure, one defined by an equally iconic performance (Julie Andrews in the 1964 film version). It's a big flying umbrella to fill, but Kate Hall does an admirable job. She brings a wonderful balance of sweetness and sass to her portrayal that lights up the stage. Her voice is lovely, as well. Ultimately, what she gives us is not an impression so much as an homage - a good choice.

Meanwhile, Smith is all gangling affability as Bert. He tackles the role with a gusto that makes him very easy to like. His energy makes Bert a delight to watch; his song and dance work is marked with earnest enthusiasm. Will Stephenson grumbles and growls his way through as the gruff Mr. Banks, while Mary Ellms shows off a lovely singing voice in her tender portrayal of Mrs. Banks; the pair share some lovely moments. Young Emma Campbell is a spitfire as Jane, with an outsized stage presence; Drew Pierson is all wide eyes and wisecracks as younger brother Michael. A vibrant supporting cast also contributes to bringing this vision of London to life.

The music and movement aspects of the production prove noteworthy as well. The pit orchestra as directed by Dana Ross does fine work in capturing the frolicking, freewheeling nature of the story through its music. Choreographer David Lamon has given his cast some rollicking dance numbers, setting actors whirling around the stage. And director Weinstein has definitely helped his cast find the joie de vivre necessary to power such an upbeat, high-energy show.

Opening night saw a handful of hiccups mostly on the technical side of things - but said hiccups were relatively minor, part of the joy that is live theater. And the triumphs particularly when actors take flight more than make up for a couple of ultimately insignificant speed bumps. It's a big show on a big stage and the Grand has embraced that sense of size; wrinkles are going to appear, but they're easy enough to iron out going forward. It's a lovely, ambitious and fairly intricate piece in term of production values a grand undertaking for the Grand.

There's no denying the joy that comes from a show like 'Disney's Mary Poppins.' Telling such a familiar story asks a lot of the tellers, but the cast and crew assembled by the Grand is up to the task. It's the tale you know in love, just featuring new faces and new voices.

In the end, there's no doubt that you'll have a wait for it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 October 2015 20:10

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