The artistic scene in Atlanta has been undergoing a transformation. It can certainly be said that, at least in part, it is being propelled by the recent years' influx that has resulted from the growing film industry in Georgia.
Despite how harshly this state was hit by the 2008 financial crisis due the the housing industry being such a relevant part of the economy, local thespian endeavors can be found in and around Atlanta without great effort.
The Suzi Bass Awards, at the professional level, and the Shuler Hensley Awards for High School Musical Theater have not only increased thespian awareness, but have helped provide an outlet for the passion of local professional talent and the development of blossoming one.
As a result, one can experience great theater not only in Atlanta's prime venues as The Fox but within each community. Such is the case of the Aurora Theatre in Laurenceville, Georgia which is currently offering a run of McIntosh's 'Mary Poppins.'
This musical, which to the surprise of many is a recent work in it's theatrical incarnation, revisits the original tunes of the beloved Disney film, brings to life new melodies, and restores some of the elements of the original books by P. L. Travers.
The West End production opened in December 2004 and received two Olivier Awards. The Broadway production opened in November 2006, receiving seven Tony Award nominations.
It is not a simple feat to combine elements of beloved works to create a quasi new one that not only stands on its own, but that is accepted and enjoyed as such. McIntosh's staging was successful at achieving this.
From the local perspective, adapting a logistically complicated production -- if at all because of the special effects -- from a theater like The New Amsterdam -- where the show run from November 2006 until March 2013 -- to a stage maybe a quarter the size, is a challenge to be respected. The Aurora Theatre production does this efficiently and in a way that supports the believability of the story...or fantasy if you will.
The talent delivers an enjoyable and engaging performance that is technically and artistically skillful. Galen Crawley is quite enjoyable as the iconic, magical English nanny Mary Poppins. As Mary’s artistic and mischievous sidekick Bert, Andy Meeks is absolutely energetically charming and Mabel Tyler deliciously holds her own as little Jane Banks. The cast also includes William S. Murphey as George Banks, Liza Jaine as Winifred Banks, Heidi Cline McKerley as Miss Andrew, Geoff Uterhardt as Admiral Boom, and Jessica DeMaria as Mrs. Brill.
Engaging your audience in memories of childhoods past is a gift that can only be returned with the enthusiastic standing ovation of a grateful audience who, for a few moments, forgets the stressful realities of everyday life after enjoying a spoonful of a supercalifragilistic 'Mary Poppins.'
Mary Poppins runs until the end of August so, if you'd like to enjoy some good family time in the theater, make sure you get your tickets even if you are on the other side of town. It is most certainly worth the drive so go fly a kite with the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville!