‘Mary Poppins’ has profitable touchdown in Carmel – Monterey Herald
CARMEL — “Mary Poppins” arrived at Carmel’s Outdoor Forest Theater as a musical production opening Pacific Repertory Company’s 2022 season.
This production ranks among the most ambitious ever staged at the 112-year-old theatre, with giant movable sets and aerial performances by flying actors made possible by the 40-by-20-foot truss and tower rig supporting the aerial maneuvers. Our heroine descends, umbrella held high, floating onto center stage in the person of Malinda DeRouen, whose portrayal of the beloved nanny is as “practically perfect” as Poppins herself. She’s an impressive presence with a gorgeous voice and confident charm.
Los Angeles Actors’ Equity member Corey Wright, in the role of Bert the chimney sweep, also nears perfection, a model of charisma and physical suppleness bursting with musical theater talent. DeRouen and Wright make an ideal and enchanting pair in these roles.
The play is directed and choreographed by Lara Devlin with vocal direction by Janice Marotta-Perl.
Devlin has fashioned a Forest Theater masterpiece guiding the 50-member cast and crew in a vibrant, fast-paced production with terrific acting, singing and dancing by the principals and the ensemble. This adaptation of the children’s stories by PL Travers and the 1964 Disney film featuring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke containing classic songs such as “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. Dialogue by Oscar-winning Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes adds more panache to the musical.
The ensemble includes outstanding portrayals by Rob Devlin and Chrissy Brooks as George and Winifred Banks, whose misbehaving children, Michael and Jane, require the services of the nanny extraordinaire. Bright young actors Heidi Witten-Forsythe, Zoe Ushakoff, Caden Devlin and Daisy Pearl Ashby alternate performances as Michael and Jane. D. Scott McQuiston and Bri Slama amuse as the Banks family servants and Lyla Englehorn aces the terrifying Miss Andrews, the nanny, who sings the new number “Brimstone and Treacle” with searing effect. Katharine Andrade White sings the poignant “Bird Woman” song with DeRouen. James Brady makes a dandy gruff bank chairman, George Banks’ boss.
Patrick McEvoy’s impressive sets on wheels weave in and out of the story’s locations: rooms in the Banks’ residence, London streets and parks, Bert’s rooftops and George’s bank establishment. Numerous special effects add more scenic delight, among them Mary Poppins’ magic carpet bag out of which she draws a hat rack, a cup of tea, her umbrella and other unexpected items.
From attire changes of the ineffable Mary Poppins to the garb of park statues coming 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 benefitted from the tower rig, to which he added banks of lights that deftly enhanced the visual elements as the story evolved. Tony Nocita’s sound design provided smooth orchestral accompaniment for the soloists and chorus, though some spoken dialogue was lost, particularly from the young actors.
“Mary Poppins” at the Forest Theater is a lovely outdoor setting. The show plays Thursdays through Sundays through Sept. 18. For tickets and information call 831-622-0100 or see www.pacrep.org for further information.