Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mary Poppins

"Anything can happen if you let it."
What do you do when your children can't keep a nanny?  The two innocent looking darlings are causing many nannies to leave a home.  Why are these children chasing away many well-qualified caregivers?
What do these kids want?
George Banks works long hours causing him to be self-absorbed in providing for his family.  As a banker, he understands the importance of an image and keeps his wife's former occupation as an actress a secret.  
As a nanny leaves, George and his wife discuss placing a new advertisement in the paper.   Surprisingly, Jane and Michael, the children have written their requirements for a new nanny which don't match their parents' list, at all.  
When George reads the list which includes things like "rosy cheeks" and "plays games- all sorts" he immediately tosses this well-planned document into the fire. 
Imagine his surprise when a new nanny is at the door with the advertisement written by the children.  Is this magic?   Yes, it is Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins opened last weekend at our own Chanticleer Community Theater.  This family oriented musical is aimed at an audience who can enjoy a musical that lasts for three hours including an intermission.
In the roles of Jane and Michael Banks, Emma Johnson and Austin Lempke excel in truly becoming these characters.  Their scheming is charming.  As Bert, Brandon Fisher is marvelous narrating much of the story in song and dance.  The parents, George and Winifred Bank portrayed by Travis Walker and Sarah Ebke were delightful in their roles of frustration and refocusing their lives.
In the role of Mary Poppins, Samantha Shatley shows immense talent in the magically, aloof lead.
Denise Putman as Mrs. Corry and her daughters Fannie and Annie portrayed by Kori Archbold and Geana Schneider are hilarious with their introducing Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious to the audience.  Between the costumes, their stage antics, and their acting abilities, this is definitely a show-stopper number.
As for stage presence, Kate Simmons as the Bird Woman sings beautifully in the number Feed the Birds.
With a large cast, on any given show there are many outstanding performances.   The dancers are terrific with their enthusiasm and energy throughout the show.  I loved Terry Schmidt as the British Admiral Boom.  He perfectly matched my image of a Gilbert/Sullivan admiral.  Eric Cavanaugh as Neleus commanded the stage in this role with a warmth and a smile.  Dan Whitehouse as the police officer was caring while showing concern.   
What is also amazing in this show is that many people have multiple roles and masterfully become each different character from being a statue to a toy to a bank clerk.   Even though you know it is the same person; each role has its individual character personality.
Even the small parts contributed significantly to the constant energy and enthusiasm in this uplifting show.
On the night I saw the show, there was a slight problem of the orchestra overpowering the singers.  Balancing sound is difficult as there are so many variables that affect sound balance in a theater.  Each instrumental member is an accomplished musician individually and perfectly blended into an ensemble.
Dwayne Ibsen showed true artistic mastery with the costumes in Mary Poppins.    The scenery was colorful and purposeful as well as functional and creative accommodating to the needs of the cast.
This massive show demonstrates mastery in both direction and production at all levels.   Every detail is considered throughout the show.
Mary Poppins at the Chanticleer Theater located at 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs continues through May 22nd with show times at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the theater at (712) 323-9955 or email costing $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $10 for student and children.
Whether or not you attend this show, please be aware of an unusual upcoming event on May 25.  Chanticleer Community Theater will be part of Omaha Gives where every donation is increased to a charity with matching funds.   For more information, please check out
This stage production is not like the movie.   It is similar, but different even if some of the songs are the same.
"Anything can happen if you let it."   Let yourself enjoy this delightful show this weekend at our Chanticleer Theater.

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