By Beki Pineda, Image BDT Stage
MARY POPPINS. Original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman; book by Julian Fellowes; directed by Scott Beyette. Produced by BDT Stage (5501 Arapahoe Ave.) through Sept. 5. Tickets available at 303-449-6000 or www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com.
Sometimes a role just finds the perfect person to play it. Such is the case with the role of Bert in MARY POPPINS and Scott Beyette. Scott, whether he has the lead or a chorus part, always creates credible characters, brings his personal charm to a role, and displays a command of any dance style. But his work as both performer and director in MARY POPPINS is a perfect blend of what he does best—create a casual, warm relationship with the audience, master and lead difficult dance sequences, and inhabit a character with ease. He consistently sets a high bar for performance.
The rest of the cast moves right up and bumps against that bar as well. Tracy Warren brings a lovely singing voice and a commanding dignity to her role of Mary Poppins. She makes it her own, not a pale shadow of Julie Andrews. Mr. and Mrs. Banks are that popular couple at BDT— Wayne Kennedy and Shellie Cox-Robie. When asked how many times they had played a couple or husband and wife in productions, they both started rattling off shows; we stopped counting at about 10 or 12. Once again they bring their special friendship to a new set of roles. New songs written for the stage production give both Mr. and Mrs. Banks lovely solos. This version makes Mr. Banks a bit of a Scrooge who must be saved from his stuffy, arrogant self. Wayne plays “reborn” with grace.
Standout featured roles include the Banks children and the formidable interim nanny Miss Andrew. In the production viewed, Kaden Hinkle and Katie Phipps stand toe to toe with the adults to propel the story about the family’s search for a new nanny and how she changes everyone’s life when she arrives. Mr. Banks keeps citing the “quality” nanny he had as a boy, but when she is found and brought to the Banks house, she turns out to be a devilish harridan who scares everyone to death. Amanda Earl plays her with gusto.
At the intermission I walked the theater and observed that out of the 93 tables, easily a third of them had children under 15 in attendance. The show is nearly two-and-a-half hours long, so take that into consideration when you book your tickets. But the kids were enthralled up to the ending scene, especially during the lively dance sequences such as the tap dancing in “Step in Time” and the hand jive in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Technically this is one of the most difficult shows BDT has produced. The special flying effects, engineered by Troy Trinkle, are pretty darn impressive. There are several large sets with internal special effects (falling shelves, leaning cabinets and magic valises, for instance) that proved a little overwhelming during opening weekend, but my guess is that those kinks have been smoothed out by now.
A perfect summer show for you and your children.
WOW factor: of 8.5