10-year old Logan Sejas doesn’t completely steal the show in “Mary Poppins,” now playing at the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, but he comes pretty close. Based on the 1964 film, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and the stories of P.L. Travers, the musical is playing at the far northwest Indianapolis theater for the very first time and runs through June 29. A must see for audiences of all ages, the production is deftly directed by Eddie Curry.
Sejas plays Michael Banks in this story, set in London in 1910. Michael and his older sister Jane have terrorized a string of nannies, until Mary Poppins arrives to dispense both magic and wisdom to help them and their parents become a functional, loving family.
Greenwood resident Sejas attends St. Rose of Lima in Franklin where he is in the fourth grade. His credits include a role as Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. A bright young talent, he also appeared in “Zirkus Grimm,” at Q Artistry, in a performance seen by this writer who singled him out in a review. Playing the mischievous young Michael, whose acting out results from a lack of attention from his cold and detached father, Sejas not only displayed superb acting chops but showed he could sing and dance well too.
As mentioned previously, though Sejas was certainly endearing, each and every one of his cast mates turned out performances that were uniformly outstanding.
Cara Statham Serber as the irrepressible Mary Poppins demonstrated not only impressive vocal skills but was also sucessful in conveying the quirky personality of the firm yet kind nanny who mysteriously descends from the clouds. Serber’s rendition of “A Spoonful of Sugar” did not disappoint nor did the show’s special effects which made it possible for her character to ascend into the heavens.
Buddy Reeder played Bert, the show’s narrator. A dear friend of Mary Poppins, Bert is a man who wears many hats, including that of a chimney sweep. Reeder portrayed his character with the right combination of infectious cheer and optimism while demonstrating ample showmanship as he performed “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
Suzanne Stark was irresistible in her dual roles as the Mrs. Corry, the exotic proprietor of a sweet shop and as Miss Andrew, a.k.a “The Holy Terror,” the tyrannical and abusive nanny who force feeds Michael and Jane in “Brimstone and Treacle,” during which she stops the show with her operatic voice as she sings the high note at the song’s conclusion. Stark was stupendous in her transformation from one character to another, making each totally distinct from the other.
Director Curry, who played the impenetrable George Banks, and Heather Patterson King, as the ineffectual Winifred Banks, were both convincing in their roles as husband and wife and mother and father — both partially responsible for their family’s dysfunction and ripe for Mary Poppins’ therapy.
A well-oiled ensemble, showing strong vocals and proficient dancing to Ron Morgan’s smart choreography (especially in “Step in Time” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) contributed to the production’s first-rate entertainment value.
Further enhancing the show was a five piece band led by music director and pianist Terry Woods, which solidly interpreted the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers score.
The production’s sets, designed by Michael Layton, lighting designed by Ryan Kolharchik, Daniel Hesslebrok’s sound design and Kurt Alger’s costumes also added luster to a solid effort notable for its overall consistency and the seamlessness of its presentation.
For tickets and information about Beef & Board’s “Mary Poppins” call (317) 872 - 9664 or visit www.beefandboards.com.
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