SMITHFIELD – I’ve often said that Mary Poppins is not my favorite Disney musical. But any opportunity to see the incomparable Sarah Huff perform is all right with me.
Jon and Kody Rash of the Four Seasons Theatre Company took a big gamble by staging Mary Poppins at the time when the attention of most local theater audiences is firmly riveted on the Lyric Repertory Company and the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre. But the co-directors bet on Ms. Huff and it paid off in spades.
The Four Seasons production of Mary Poppins is flawless. It’s the perfect family-friendly, child-oriented summer entertainment.
This show is a real treat for both the eye and the ear. Based on the classic children’s books by P.L. Travers and with music mostly cribbed from the 1964 Disney movie, this production features superb acting, excellent vocal performances, spirited dancing, imaginative set designs and wild costuming.
After a triumph as Mary Poppins back in 2015, Ms. Huff reprises the title role of the magical nanny who can dispense both child psychology and family therapy with all-too English certainty, then fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
Her performance was practically miraculous, start to finish. Ms. Huff seamlessly slid back into character, channeling the immortal Julie Andrews with a crystal-clear soprano voice and perfect mannerisms.
Mary Poppins is aided in her crusade to alter the dynamics of a typically Edwardian family by Clifton Richards. As the chimney sweep Bert, Richards serves as the musical’s narrator and provides much of its comedy relief. And he makes dancing look easy.
Speaking of dancing, the choreography by Analyse Chidester, Katie Pachard, Jon Rash and Rachelle Walker was amazing. From a frantic rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in Act 1 to a charming tap-dance reprise of “Anything Can Happen” in Act 2, the show’s ensemble was the life of the party.
Appearing as the subject of Mary’s re-education efforts in the Banks family are Dallin Clark as George, Riley Ritchie as Winifred and their children, Haven Tietjen and Abe Higginbotham. The children played their roles well and were particularly endearing.
Also memorably lurking in the Banks household are Amanda Madsen and Germain Costa as a harried pair of domestics who never seem to get a break.
Kudos to the run and flying crew (Danny Rash, Nathan Allen, Kyle Pyfer; Jared Bohman, Nathan Bohman, Matthew Bohman, Bethany Potts and Ella Stevens) for getting Ms. Huff into and out of the air smoothly and without incident.
While there’s plenty to entertain the kids during Mary Poppins, the show works on one level only. Playwrights Julian Fellowes and Cameron Mackintosh didn’t bother to think too much about the youngsters’ parents when they were scripting this show.
There’s a couple of inside jokes that will produce mature chuckles. Other than that, adults are seemingly just along for the ride.
Additional performances of Mary Poppins are slated in the auditorium at Sky View High School in Smithfield through Saturday, July 9.