Mary Poppins (16th performance).

Sunday 8th January 2017, back at the Millenium Centre for another performance of the brilliant Mary Poppins, which is entering its last week in Cardiff. I must admit to being sorry that it’s leaving, as it’s been fabulous entertainment for me over the past few weeks. I will definitely miss this show, as I fell in love with it from day one.

For this matinee performance we have Lottie Sicilia as Jane Banks along with Regan Garcia as Michael Banks. A few changes to the adult cast today sees Anthony Lawrence as George Banks with Claire Parrish playing Winifred Banks.

Today I’d like to talk about the costumes for the show. As it’s set in the early part of the 1900’s the clothing depicts that era. The women in long flowing dresses, the men in suits and tails, and the servants dressed to serve. It’s such an iconic look, as in those days, you dressed to go anywhere. The opening scenes start this way, until the arrival of Mary Poppins, with a bright coloured skirt and blouse outfit, and an array of extremely beautiful coloured coats to match. But as the ‘Jolly Holiday’ scene gets into full swing, the costumes change to massively bright pastel colours, which instantly light up the stage. It’s like watching a scene outside on a glorious summers day. 

We go from colour to the black and white of the bank, with the clerks in those colours. A replica of how people dressed for work in this period. As we move through the Bird Woman scene and onto Mrs Corry and her Shop in the park, we continue into another strong costume scene, with more bright colours, and panto style make up dominating the proceedings. Towards the end of act one, comes the ‘Playing the game’ scene, where the toys come to life. Another fabulous section, and a dream for costume designers to really show their talents. And I must say, pretty realistic designs they are too.

Act two begins with the arrival of Miss Andrew in a rather strict looking, no fussing outfit, totally suited to her character. When Mary confronts her, we see an excellent comparison to each costume. Miss Andrew, black and white and not very flattering, to Mary with her stylish blue and white, extremely flattering outfit (which is very noticeable in all her scenes).

‘Step in time’ is just superb, with all the ensemble dressed as chimney sweeps, which consisted of a pair of woolen trousers (very smart looking for the type of work) and a matching coat, with a typical flat cap. Mary wears her beautiful red coat for the whole scene. Burt, as well as the smart trousers, has a brightly coloured waistcoat on as well. Amazing designs to show great fashion sense for the era.

Towards the end of the show we move onwards to ‘Anything can happen’, another beautiful scene lighting wise, with the costumes really coming into focus, to match its surroundings. The ensemble enter in blue sparkly suits and caps (matching the design of the suits worn in other scenes), as the scenes progresses all of the cast enter in their main costumes for the show. Showcasing the costumes in their entirety, and I must say, very impressive, something to savour at the end of each show. 

With so many costumes to look after, the role of the dresser needs a mention too. Most of these are staff who work for the Centre. These wonderful people, who work a lot of the time behind the scenes, and out of public view, really come into their own in these big stage shows. Making sure that people are in the right place, at the right time, in the correct outfit for each scene. In my blogs I try to mention a lot of the backstage staff and other members of the teams that bring us these magnificent shows, as to me, they are the unsung heroes of the theatre world, and help to create the magic we get to see on stage.

Today’s matinee performance was again just brilliant, another joy to watch on an otherwise dull Sunday afternoon. Anthony and Claire were superb as Mr and Mrs Banks, proving yet again how invaluable the ensemble and understudies actually are, to the success of any show. Fabulous just fabulous. 

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