Chimney Sweep

‘Mary Poppins’ has profitable touchdown in Carmel – Monterey Herald

The Pacific Repertory Theater is performing “Mary Poppins” at Carmel’s Outdoor Forest Theater. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Moorer, PacRep)

CARMEL – “Mary Poppins” arrived at Carmel’s Outdoor Forest Theater as the musical production to open the Pacific Repertory Company’s 2022 season.

This production is among the most ambitious ever staged at the 112-year-old theatre, with huge moving sets and aerial performances by flying actors made possible by the 40′ x 20′ truss and tower framework that supports the aerial maneuvers. Our heroine descends, umbrella held high, and floats onto the stage in the persona of Malinda DeRouen, whose portrayal of the beloved nanny is as “virtually perfect” as Poppins herself. She is an impressive personality with a beautiful voice and confident charm.

Los Angeles Actors’ Equity member Corey Wright also approaches perfection in the role of Chimney Sweep Bert, a paragon of charisma and physical litheness brimming with musical theatrical talent. DeRouen and Wright make an ideal and adorable couple in these roles.

The piece is directed and choreographed by Lara Devlin with vocal direction by Janice Marotta-Perl.

Devlin has created a Forest Theater masterpiece, guiding the 50-strong cast and crew through a vibrant, fast-paced production featuring terrific acting, singing and dancing from the directors and company. This adaptation of the PL Travers children’s stories and the 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke features classic songs like “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” New songs and additional music and lyrics have been added to this stage version co-created by Disney and Cameron Macintosh. Oscar-winning dialogue from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes adds panache to the musical.

The cast includes outstanding performances by Rob Devlin and Chrissy Brooks as George and Winifred Banks, whose misbehaving children, Michael and Jane, require the services of the extraordinary nanny. Bright young actors Heidi Witten-Forsythe, Zoe Ushakoff, Caden Devlin and Daisy Pearl Ashby take turns playing Michael and Jane. D. Scott McQuiston and Bri Slama amuse themselves as servants to the Banks family and Lyla Englehorn plays the terrifying Miss Andrews, the nanny who sings the new number “Brimstone and Treacle” to searing effect. Katharine Andrade White sings the poignant “Bird Woman” song with DeRouen. James Brady makes a dandy-gruff bank chairman the boss of George Banks.

Patrick McEvoy’s stunning sets on wheels weave in and out of the story’s settings: rooms in the Banks’ residence, London streets and parks, Bert’s rooftop and George’s banking establishment. Numerous special effects add to the scenic delight, including Mary Poppin’s magic carpet bag, from which she pulls a hat rack, a cup of tea, her umbrella and other unexpected items.

From the clothing changes of the indescribable Mary Poppins to the robes of park statues that come to life, the townsfolk, chimney sweeps, the Banks family and more, Ziona Goren’s costume designs add flair and fun to the show. Lighting designer Derek Duarte capitalized on the tower rig to which he added light banks that cleverly enhanced the visuals as the story progressed. Tony Nocita’s sound design ensured smooth orchestral accompaniment for the soloists and chorus, although some spoken dialogue was lost, particularly from the young actors.

Mary Poppins at the Forest Theater is a beautiful outdoor setting. The show plays Thursdays through Sundays through September 18th. For tickets and information, call 831-622-0100 or visit for more information.

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