Tag Archive: Mary Poppins


Reading this, you’ll probably think I hated Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But you’d be wrong. I guess the problem I had was high expectations as this is one of my favourite childhood films. Another complication is that this year I have seen a large amount of productions, some of which have been out of this world. Therefore, the benchmark had been set.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 September 2016

My initial impression was that the set was a little dull. Seeing Mary Poppins earlier this year explode into a myriad of colours, I was hoping for something of the same. Not so, unfortunately. Then there was the actual performance of the lead roles. I found delivery of lines to be stilted and have to say, I was disappointed with Lee Mead as Caractacus Potts. Although an excellent singer, his acting, at times, was wooden. Similarly, Phil Jupitus (Baron Bomburst) and Claire Sweeny (Baroness Bomburst) were nothing to shout about, seeming to go through the motions. So much for the big names in the production. Of the billed principals, only Carrie Hope Fletcher gave a five star performance as Truly Scrumptious.

I will say, on the other hand, Henry Kent and Lucy Sherman as Jeremy and Jemima were both excellent, the latter showing a strong professional voice for her age. The kids really put the adults to shame at times with their energy.

I’ve spoken about the set already but also felt the car was a let down. In addition, technical faults had the wings failing to open at the climax of Act One. I know it’s hard to make believe a car can fly, but this one didn’t come close. And speaking of things not being realistic, what the flip was that all about with the tin dog?

Another failure of the show was the poor use of the Child Catcher (Matt Gillett). Very limited in appearances and the song Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies, totally cut. I will say, I’m not sorry about the song as although I’m a fan of creepy, I find Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies to be perversely disturbing. However, the production could still have done more with the character. Also missing in action was the number, Us Two/Chitty Prayer where Jeremy and Jemima sing for help and are rescued. Not a massive song, I admit, but important all the same and a real Daddy, my Daddy tear jerker. What you had instead was Grandpa Potts more or less saying, ‘Hey, I found these two locked in a dungeon.’ Rubbish cop out.

Still, there were good moments of song and dance, notably Me Ol’ Bamboo, Truly Scrumptious, Posh! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, itself. My favourite overall, though, was Teamwork, especially the performance of the children in the sewers. On the down side, I found The Bombie Samba, although well choreographed, nothing more than a filler and wanted to shout out, get on with it!

Also appearing were Andy Hockley (Grandpa Potts), Ewen Cummins (The Toymaker), Sam Harrison (Boris) and Scott Paige (Goran). The two spies added great comic moments, helped by a good script.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was produced by John Stalker, directed by James Brining, choreographed by Stephen Mear with musical direction from Andrew Hilton.

As I mentioned at the start, it wasn’t the case that I hated the show, I did actually enjoy it, but it could have been so much better. I felt I was simply watching a show when what I really wanted was to experience it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 September 2016

Cheers.


Nick

 

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I didn’t know what to expect about Mary Poppins. With the reputation built of being spectacular and so many friends lauding praise, I wondered if the show would live up to the hype.

One of my reservations came from listening to the 2005 Original London Cast Recording CD release which although full of many of the well known Sherman tunes from the 1964 film, still fell flat in my opinion. However, a live performance is a different matter so I was interested to see if a little theatre magic would explode from the stage. It stood a chance having being devised by Cameron Mackintosh, a producer whose shows have never let me down.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

I needn’t have worried. From the opening number I witness to over two hours of dynamic energy from a wonderful cast. Also, possibly the best set I have ever seen including a house on Cherry Tree Lane which unfolded before your eyes.

There seemed to be so much going on, you dared not switch attention for a second. During Jolly Holiday, the lighting altered on the backdrops so many times in a myriad of colours, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d changed the entire set mid song.

Yes, the old favourites were there: A Spoonful of Sugar, Feed the Birds, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and Chim Chim Cher-re. In addition to these, you also had the bigger song and dance numbers, particularly Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and the immense Step in Time. Rather Bert than me climbing the side of the stage before walking upside down from a great height as he went over the rooftops. Also, the newer live numbers came across better than the recording I’d heard, In particular, Practically Perfect and Anything Can Happen.

I was informed on arrival that the part of Mary Poppins would that night be played by an understudy. However, there was no disappointment. Jennifer Davison delivered with such power you’d be hard pressed to think she hadn’t been doing it for the entire run. Also supporting was Matt Lee as Bert, Milo Twomey as George Banks and Rebecca Lock as his wife, Winifred. Jane and Michael were played with enthusiasm in this performance by Madeline Banbury and Regan Garcia.

My only two criticisms would be that one, I thought some of Julian Fellows’ scripted dialogue was a little laborious at times. However, that wasn’t a fault of the production and with everything happening in front of you, it was forgotten most of the time. The other was that the vocal amplification appeared weak to start with. Whether this was rectified or I just got used to it is unknown. It wasn’t an issue later on.

All in all, a wonderful experience right until the end where the magical nanny flies above the audience, disappearing into the sky (or rather an exit in the theatre ceiling).

So did I enjoy after my original uncertainty? Absolutely. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

Cheers.

Nick

Yearning for a trip to the theatre? Can’t wait to see Mary Poppins on stage? Well Step in Time as memories of Broadway and the West End hit the region this month.

Musical Memories - Aldridge Musical Comedy Society

A spectacular concert of song and dance, Musical Memories is the latest offering from the awesome Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS). For almost 50 years, AMCS have been delivering quality productions, and this is no exception.

Numbers draw from a variety of shows with something for everyone. If it’s classics you’re after, you will not be disappointed with segments from Cats, Les Miserables, West Side Story, Miss Saigon and Evita. Then there are more contemporary with songs from Spamalot, Avenue Q, Sister Act, All Shook Up and The Little Mermaid. Plus, huge pieces hailing from Wicked, Jekyll and Hyde, Chess, Little Shop of Horrors and many more including a teaser for AMCS’ Spring 2016 production, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Performed Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 November 2015 at the Rugeley Rose Theatre, Rugely, tickets can be obtained from the AMCS box office on 01543 480626 with full details on websites – www.aldridgemcs.co.uk or www.musicalmemoriesshow.com.

Don’t miss out on this magnificent experience.

£12/adult, £10/Concessions and £6/Under 16s.

You can follow AMCS on Facebook for news of current and future productions.

facebook.com/aldridgemcs

Cheers.

Nick

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