REVIEW: Dorman Theatre Wows with Ambitious ‘Mary Poppins’

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

The world’s most beloved nanny flies high again this weekend at Dorman Theatre in an ambitious, elaborate and sweet production of “Mary Poppins” that umbrellas down is the best deal in town this Easter weekend.

This monster of a show with so many scenes, characters, and musical numbers like “Practically Perfect;” “Jolly Holiday;” “Step in Time” on the rooftops of London; “A Spoonful of Sugar;” the delightful “Playing the Game” and of course,  “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which gets the extended remix in this glorious version.

Executive Director and Producer Leah Wren and Associate Director Blair Dawkins have wrestled “Miss Poppins” with a tea pinky out and deliver an eye-popping and entertaining massive show with some 43 actors and over 60 crew and musicians.

The Dorman High School orchestra is fantastic (conducted by Dave Bruce) and the leads shine – senior Perrion Porter as the Chimney Sweeper Bert masters the accent and gruff charm while senior Kit Lindsey is a practically perfect Mary Poppins, stern and assertive and sparkling in the higher soprano solos like “Practically Perfect.”

Rounding out the main cast are Payton Williams and Sarah Hoffman (wonderful voice!) and rotating pairs of younger theatre students as Jane and Michael Banks (Avery Mason and Audrey Soto with Philip Crawford and Colten Bruce).

Special kudos to Makayla Greeley for an outstanding and heartwarming performance of “Feed the Birds” in the featured role of the poor Bird Woman.

The sets are divine, the costumes plentiful and colorful (especially the toys that come alive in “Playing the Game”) and the projections are impressive (Troy McDowell is Technical Director). Dorman and Ballet Spartanburg are in my experience on the cutting edge of video design and consistently produce the grandest full-scale technology  

The many peppy and beautiful musical ensemble numbers were choreographed by Lauren Cabaniss and are extremely well-executed and festive with everyone in on the action and the songs are faithfully rendered with wit and flair.

And the aerial choreography (trained by none other than Flying by Foy) is first-rate and alone worth the tiny admission price of $5.

“Mary Poppins” continues Saturday, April 20 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Dorman Performing Arts Center, 1050 Cavalier Away in Roebuck. Tickets are available at the door.

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