|Annalise Belnap Webb|
Photo: Nick Woodward-Shaw / Lighting: Jeff A. Davis
Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 28th.
The 2004 stage musical version of Mary Poppins, which features P. L. Travers' iconic literary character, is being produced all over the Valley this season. Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert's in-the-round production offers an intimacy to the story and their exceptional cast elicits a strong emotional connection to the story of this "practically perfect" nanny who improves the dynamics of one very dysfunctional family.... Annalise Belnap Webb strongly exhibits Mary's strictness and sternness but allows Mary's well-meaning ways to come through as clear as Webb's exceptional voice. Webb excels on her many songs with a rich, powerful delivery combined with crisp and perfect diction and warm, buttery tones. Rob Stuart is superb as George Banks, with a touching portrayal of George's change from a stubborn, selfish man to one who understands the importance of family. Laura Anne Kenney is just as good as George's wife Winnifred, displaying a powerful strength underneath the self-reliant woman. As Mary's friend Bert, Tedd Glazebrook brings a sense of joy and wonder to the production. Josh Mortensen and Isabelle Jensen are not only completely adorable as the Banks' children, but also both exceptional actors able to deliver some of the funniest lines in the show and the dramatic ones as well. ...Director Cambrian James lets the fun parts of the storyline share equal billing with the sentimental ones, which allows the impact of Mary's involvement with the Banks family to not seem too forced, but more natural....while the few set pieces used help establish the main locations of the show—the Banks' house, the park and the bank—Hale's theatre-in-the-round causes a lack of major set pieces or drops, which is a bit of a detriment in that it doesn't allow for the many colorful locations of the show to be fully displayed. Also, the character of Mary Poppins is known to fly in and out of the story, yet with no fly space above the Hale stage it means that Mary's flying ability and Bert's upside down tapping in "Step in Time" cannot be shown. However, none of this detracts from the emotional story at the core of the show. With a strong cast that collectively delivers a powerful and emotional meaning to the important lesson about spending time with your family, Hale's production of Mary Poppins is an exuberant, lively musical with fun songs and memorable characters that all family members can enjoy together." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)