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Thursday’s opening night of their 2017 production Mary Poppins received rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the near capacity Regent Theatre audience.
Director Doug Kamo, Michael Grant (music) and Emma Holloway (choreography) headed a company of local talent, skilled production personnel and 16 musicians in outstanding entertainment.
Slick, fast-moving and so professional in every aspect, the show’s strong vocals, dancing and lavish costuming were spell-binding, as the story played out with projected visual effects and large fast-changing sets.
Heading the list of character roles was Mary Poppins, superbly interpreted by Nadya Shaw Bennett as nanny to the Banks’ petulant, spoilt children (Jane played by either Grace Johnston or Samantha McCormack, and Michael (Joseph Kelly or Lucas McLeod), and Evan Fenemor as Bert, the loveable chimney sweep.
Mr and Mrs Banks (Greg McLeod and Kelly Hocking) and housekeeper Mrs Krill (Harrriet Moir) with Robertson Ay (Chris Keogh) completed the dysfunctional family to which the new nanny restored love and happiness.
Alethea Chittenden as The Holy Terror nasty nanny was piercing and petrifying, Marama Grant interpreted an adorable Mrs Corry and Chris Hinch cut a fine figure of Victorian officialdom as bank Chairman.
Scene after scene played out like turning pages in a colourful magical picture book.
In Feed the Birds (Arlie McCormack) projected pigeons flying down to be fed were so believable; wind tugged at the kites in Let’s Go Fly a Kite; sounds of falling rain accompanied visual showers; huge alphabet letters featured in Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
There were numerous crowd scenes with the 24 chorus members in Victorian costume, soot-covered chimney-sweeps, a dancing statue (Olivier Davidson) and stunning shades of yellow, orange and heliotrope highlighted the fun and games in It’s a Jolly Holiday.
Such a happy show ended with a brilliant finale when Mary Poppins "flew" off over the rooftops of London, up over the auditorium and into the dress circle.
Mary Poppins first endeared herself as the perfect magical nanny in 1964, in the ever-lasting family award-winning movie. The musical followed in 2004 and this Dunedin season runs for a week, such a wonderful treat for locals.
- Elizabeth Bouman
• Regent Theatre, Thursday, May 18