Thursday, 22 October 2015

Review: Mary Poppins (UK Tour) at the Leicester Curve

Mary Poppins (UK Tour) 
Leicester Curve
Reviewed on Wednesday 21st October 2015

It's been over half a decade since Mary Poppins was last seen onstage in the UK; the show is back with an all-new touring production which has launched at the Leicester Curve Theatre. Based on P. L. Travers' book series, Richard Eyre's production is adapted from the beloved 1964 Disney film, with additional musical numbers by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

It has been eight years since I last saw Mary Poppins, upon leaving the theatre I felt like I had relived part of my childhood. There is something very emotional about the piece; it is a story with great heart staged with tremendous warmth. If everyone had a Mary Poppins in their life the world would most certainly be a better place!

Zizi Strallen leads the cast as Mary, following the footsteps of her elder sister Scarlett (who is the only other actress I have seen play the role). Strallen has appeared in various shows over the years, always showcasing immense versatility. Mary is her biggest role to date, and she gives a career defining performance. 

I think Mary - the wondrous Nanny who glides into Cherry Tree Lane - is a tricky role to play; she isn't instantly likeable but by the end of the first act the thought of her flying away when the wind changes is absolutely devastating. Performing with a twinkle in her eye, Strallen's little mannerisms and quirks are spot on, her presence is strong yet effortless and she shows off the classical side of her voice beautifully. As the tour progresses Strallen will only get stronger, she is becoming a force to be reckoned with! 

Although one or two set pieces appear a little flimsy, overall the design is of a very high standard for a touring production. Various tricks and illusions are cleverly incorporated into the show whilst the iconic flying scenes are truly magnificent, highlighting the magic of theatre. 

The hard working ensemble raised the roof with the big company numbers. 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and 'Step in Time' are the two almighty highlights - Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear's choreography dazzles throughout.

Matt Lee charms as Bert whilst the (tiny) child actors I saw as Jane and Michael were utterly outstanding - the standard of performance from young actors working in theatre continues to get higher and higher. 

Rebecca Lock, who previously played the title role in the West End, is terrific as Winifred Banks, her rendition of 'Being Mrs Banks' is truly endearing. Elsewhere Wendy Ferguson is a delight as Mrs Brill whilst Grainne Renihan, who plays the Bird Woman, shines with her performance of 'Feed The Birds'. 

You can't go wrong with Mary Poppins, it's a glorious musical which can capture the imagination of those young and old. It is an absolute treat to see Mary Poppins back onstage, let's hope Cameron Mackintosh brings it back to the West End ASAP.

I never wanted it to end - Mary Poppins really is practically perfect in every way. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Mary Poppins runs at the Leicester Curve until Saturday 24th October 2015. The UK tour is currently booking to Saturday 29th October 2016. Please visit for further information, full tour dates and tickets.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so blown away by the whole production and very proud that my son is in it.
    We are so humbly grateful for my sons opportunity to play Little Michael Banks in this spectacular show
    I can hardly contain my emotions
    I've never watched a show that has made go through every emotion and to jump so high at the finally clapping so hard my hands were numb at the end thank you thank you so much Cameron Macintosh !!!