Saturday 31st December 2016, and another visit to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my twelfth performance of the Outstanding Mary Poppins musical. A special treat on every occasion I’ve visited, just because it’s so good.
For today’s performance we have Lottie Sicilia playing Jane Banks with Regan Garcia as Michael Banks. Grainne Renihan returns as the Bird Woman.
I’ve recently talked about the songs and choreography for the show. I think I need to mention just how good the set and the lighting is. Being a little bit technically minded, it’s nice to give this a mention, especially for this show as the set is probably the best I’ve seen for a touring production. I will start with act one today and move onto act two on my next visit.
As soon as you walk into the auditorium you get that ‘this looks good’ feeling, as the stage resembles a nightime rooftop scene. From the opening the stage looks eerie and misty before opening out to reveal the Banks house, which moves into the front of stage, opening up like a dolls house to reveal the inner living quarters. A really imaginative design, that also includes the study area coming from side stage. This is used at various times throughout the show, as we move between scenes. The house also revolves to reveal the kitchen which has a massive effect on the audience during the ‘Spoonfull of sugar’ scene. We also have the children’s bedroom, where quite a bit of magic goes on. Again so brilliantly done, as things keep happening to keep the audience enthralled.
The park scenes are so bright and colourful for ‘Jolly Holiday’, with the set transforming from a drab park to an enormous flowery, brightly lit, almost cartoon scene. Use of coloured lighting strategically placed along with the onstage cast appearing in vividly coloured outfits really add a massive edge to the whole scene. At the end of the song the stage changes back so quickly to a drab park. The use of sliding screenes is particularly prevalent throughout, which help the transition process, to achieve the required effect. Really impressed at the speed and precision of the change, which is a major factor in making this all work.
The Bank scenes are quite impressive as well, the design of the back screen is brilliant,so simple, but extremely effective, reminding the audience of the old fashioned, high ceilinged buildings of Londons architecture. Even the outside scene for ‘Feed the birds’, another simple screen, but so well designed to resemble the steps of St Paul’s, at the turn of the last century.
The scene for ‘Supercalifragilistic’ is again so simple, with a small brightly coloured Shop with folding sides. Yet it works so well with the bright colours of the costumes, effective lighting plus a brilliant musical extravaganza, make this an unforgettable scene.
Some of the show is centred on the roof of the Banks House. Another fabulous creation, with people appearing from the chimney. The back screen is also well designed to look like many rooftops alongside. Beautifully done and works so well. A fabulous first Act, just perfect.
A quick word About today’s show, absolutely brilliant again, all the cast were just amazing. Mary Poppins has to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, a phenomenal success, which I really can’t wait to see again.