There’s trouble at 17 Cherry Tree Lane and it’s not Mary Poppins. The Village Theatre’s opening night production of the popular children’s story had several magical moments, including flying people, kites and a chimney sweep dancing on the ceiling. But many of those fell flat as numerous miscues, both musical and spoken, clumsy stage blocking and stagehands appearing in plain view took audience members out of the story.
By the time you read this I’m sure both cast and crew will have ironed out the majority of its timing issues, taking copious amounts of sugar to help the medicine go down, which is why I’m throughly encouraging people to see this production.
While it’s in essence the same Disney live-action, animation creation based on P.L. Travers stories, it’s so much more.
Unlike the movie, which is almost entirely cheery, the play incorporates more of Travers’ darker moments from her books. The additions add depth and motivation for the characters, especially Mr. and Mrs. Banks who have to face his former nanny Mrs. Andrews (Mary Jo Dugaw), the anti-Mary.
The battle scene between Mrs. Andrews and Mary Poppins (Cayman Ilika) creates a wonderful juxtaposition of parenting mirroring Mr. Banks and his children with Dugaw and Ilika playing to each other strengths for a powerful vocal performance.
In a previous interview with the Reporter, Ilika said she wasn’t Julie Andrews, and while she may not be, she embodies Mary Poppins and is “Practically Perfect in Every Way,” capturing the audience’s attention from the first snap of her fingers.
Her partner in imagination, Bert (Greg McCormick Allen) sweeps the story along in good tempo, but his singing and dancing is otherworldly, making you forget it’s not a young Dick Van Dyke on stage reprising his role.
The cast’s rendition of the chimney sweep anthem, “Step In Time” is reason enough to see the show twice.
And if sensational singing and dancing aren’t your thing, the performances by the Banks family (Andrew McGinn as George Banks; Christine Marie as Mrs. Banks; Mae Corley as Jane Banks; and Jaryn Lasentia as Michael Banks) will change your mind with their emotional portrayals, witty quips and endearing story.
If physical comedy is more your thing, then pay close attention to the Banks’ house staff Mrs. Brill (Laura Kenny) and Robertson Ay (Erik Gratton) as the duo does their best Abbot and Costello impression.
The show runs at Village Theatre’s Issaquah location now through Jan. 4, followed by a brief break before opening at its Everett location Jan. 5 running through Feb. 8.
For more information or tickets, visit www.villagetheatre.org or call the Issaquah box office at 425-392-2202 or the Everett box office at 425-257-8600.
Josh Stilts: 425-453-4290; firstname.lastname@example.org