I love the theatre, any theatre but in particular, musicals! My partner spent 4 years at university in London in the days of the ‘£10 pay on the door / standing room only’ ticket and during that time, we got a real taste for shows from the West End. As we have settled in the Midlands and have small children, those West End treats have been on hold for a while. We do have the privilege of having the Birmingham Hippodrome only 40 mins away but at around £50 per ticket per show, taking a small child to a show that they may love or might just freak out at wasn’t an expensive risk I was willing to take! After several years of taking my 6 year old daughter to local theatre and gradually increasing her stamina to watch shows that were of increasing length, I decided that it was time to take the risk and take her to her first big West End show.
Mary Poppins, after a successful run in London, has begun touring around the UK. I booked tickets in advance and make sure that I had selected a matinee performance (I know she won’t be at her best when she is tired) and tickets in the circle (she gets really daunted when too close to the action, especially when something is rather loud!). We made sure we were at the theatre in plenty of time to grab a programme (so we could talk about the show), have a pre-show snack (knowing that she is also at her best when she isn’t hungry!) and go to the toilet!
We took our seats 10 minutes before the show, just enough time to settle in while not using up potential ‘sitting nicely’ time! We had taken care to watch the film before-hand to re-familiarise her with the film but had also prepared her for the fact that this would be different from the film as not all the characters and songs are the same.
The show is incredibly well put together, anyone who is a huge fan of the film and worried about being disappointed that this isn’t a carbon copy (this would include me!) need not worry! There is just enough familiarity to the production to provide comfort with enough of a hint of new material and characters to provide interest and enjoyment without confusion. The set is spectacular and moves between scenes with an air of magic. The costumes are fantastic and at times, you would be hard pushed to remember you are watching a theatre production and not a film in all its technicolour glory, the colours are so vivid! The favourite moments (without spoiling anything!) were the ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ number, which was not only colourful but so very clever in terms of choreography, my daughter was literally on the edge of her seat! Also memorable were the tricks that Mary Poppins and Bert performed – I won’t say anymore but my daughter is still talking about how Bert ‘danced’ during ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’ and how Mary Poppins left the theatre at the end!
If you get a chance to go, this really is a treat and providing that you have a bag of snacks (for the quieter songs!) and a child used to going to the theatre (the show was well over 2.5 hours including an interval) this would be a fantastic first for a West End novice.