Vista, CA---The answer is YES. Mary Poppins (Jessica Bernard) flies across the stage in Vista. Husband and wife team and artistic director Steve Glaudini and his real life actress wife (and no stranger to Moonlight), Bets Malone play George and Winifred Banks, Bert the chimney sweeper (Leigh Wakeford) walks up and across the proscenium (upside-down) and the larger than life production number Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious staring the entire cast of no less that 31 gets a rousing sendoff for about fifteen minutes with an inspiring, and colorful sing along before it ends.
Ten year old Abby Despain, who was so wonderful in last years New Village Arts production of “Wait Until Dark” plays the spoiled and errant Bank daughter (very effectively) with her younger, willing and eager companion/brother Michael (Nate Carman) driving their parents crazy and forcing every Nanny to run for the exits. But the magic of Mary Poppins is just what the doctor ordered along with “A Spoonful of Sugar” in Moonlight Stage Production of “Mary Poppins” the musical based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney Film.
“Poppins” is the second in the lineup in the companies 34th summer season. The show opened Wed. July 16th and will play through Aug. 2nd, and I must admit that of all the theatre I see, have seen over the years and that would include all the Disney movies and live stage productions seen with my three daughters as they were growing up, (and a few grandsons) that this was that very first time I had ever seen “Mary Poppins”. Seriously, I was a Mary Poppins virgin.
I know that Julie Andrews played Mary Poppins” in the film version, but in my opinion, I’ll stick with Jessica Bernard. She held my undivided attention and complete conviction that she had to be the quintessential Mary Poppins. From the time she mysteriously appears at the Bank’s residence to the lessons (and there ware many) she quietly bestows upon the two spoiled Bank offspring, her character rings true. Sorry Julie!
Leigh Wakeford, well, yes he’s quite a looker but it was his dancing and singing that won me over. His “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, “Step In Time”, and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” are sung danced to perfection. Debbie Prutsman is the perfect take no prisoners/‘wicked which of the East Mrs. Brill, as Mr. Banks former Nanny. She was recently hired to replace Mary Poppins when she abruptly took off (literally). Mrs. Bank thought she might snap the children into shape, without that ‘spoonful of sugar’. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long.
Steve Glaudini and Bets Malone share that comfort and familiarity of being husband and wife that translates well in their portrayal of the couple at odds with how to rear the children and what their roles as husband and wife mean to them. (“Cherry Tree Lane”, “Being Mrs. Bank”, “A Man has Dreams”)
Ralph Johnson is fun to watch as Admiral Boom scurrying across the stage hither and thither and more importantly as Chairman of Mr. Bank’s bank, first lowering the boom ans later upping his salary. Dynell Leigh plays Mrs. Brill, the Bank Family housekeeper with frustration enough to send her flying away along with Mary Poppins.
Director/choreographer John Vaughan moves his large cast with ease especially in the larger than life production number “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, showing off Paul A. Cantaletti’s sharp lighting design. Bryon Anderson’s sound (although there were a few glitches on opening night with some spotty body mikes and at other times too loud) works overall and of course the production features the costume coordination of Roslyn Lehman, Renetta Lloyd and Carlotta Malone with the traditional Mary Poppins and turn of the century attire. Kenneth Gammie conducts the dozen or so musicians from the pit. He and Randi Rudolph are credited as Musical Directors.
With toys coming to life, the park statue Neleus (Justin Matthew Segura) springing from his perch and Mary Poppins, looking very stately; umbrella in hand, flying across the stage, this is one magical moment you won’t want to miss.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Aug. 2nd
Organization: Moonlight Stage productions
Production Type: Musical
Where: Brengle Terrace Park, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista
Ticket Prices: $15.00-$52.00
Venue: Under the stars