'Mary Poppins' has a problem-free return to Minneapolis

  • Article by: ROHAN PRESTON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2013 - 10:27 AM

REVIEW: The infectious Broadway musical includes a gravity-defying stunt this time. The production is still “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”


Madeline Trumble as Mary and Con O’Shea-Creal as Bert in “Mary Poppins,” playing at the Orpheum Theatre.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel ,

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When “Mary Poppins” last blew into Minneapolis, in 2009, technical problems prevented Mary’s longtime friend, chimney sweep Bert, from executing one of the signature elements of the show. He was not able to tap-dance his way up one sidewall then continue, upside down, across the ceiling before returning to solid ground on the other side.

On Tuesday, Bert (Con O’Shea-Creal) completed that whiz-bang song-and-dance number with aplomb at the Orpheum Theatre, where “Poppins” has its buoyant return.

But “Poppins” giveth and taketh away. The Broadway tour has been adjusted so that the magical nanny no longer soars over the audience, as she thrillingly has done in the past. Now she does all her flying within the contained proscenium frame of the stage.

Regardless, this production is still “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Based on the 1964 Disney film and P.L. Travers books, the Cameron Mackintosh-backed musical is full of aural, visual and choreographic pleasures. The lush score is conducted by music director Daniel Bowling with lyricism and passion. Bob Crowley’s eye-popping costume and set designs are a feast for the eyes as scenes transform fluidly from pencil-sketch drabness into colorful brilliance.

And dance numbers, including a rooftop, tap-dance extravaganza, continue to please crowds.

If anything, the production, flawlessly directed by Richard Eyre and choreographer Matthew Bourne, may be overstuffed. It is 15 minutes shy of three hours, which tests the attention span of the scores of tykes who attend the show.

When it comes to having problems solved, we should all be as lucky as the Bankses, a rarefied Edwardian household. Banker father George (Chris Hoch) is emotionally distant from the family, even as he deals with a potential crisis at work. Wife Winifred Banks (Kerry Conte) does all she can to support him. Meanwhile, the bad behavior of their children, Jane and Michael, has caused a series of nannies to flee.

The kids write a letter describing their ideal nanny, and poof, Mary (Madeline Trumble) appears to help them solve their problems.

The cast has plenty of strong singers, actors and dancers. Sweet-voiced Trumble leads the village-size ensemble with grace. While her character does not have much range — she’s “Practically Perfect" — Trumble invests Mary with more than just pleased beneficence.

O’Shea-Creal’s charisma enhances his singing and dancing. His “Chim Chim Cher-ee” bubbles with goodness.

Even secondary players shine. Karen Murphy, who plays the Bird Woman, is ethereal on “Feed the Birds,” her duet with Mary. And Twin Cities actor Elizabeth Ann Berg, an understudy, stepped into the role of housekeeper Mrs. Brill on Tuesday with gusto. These performers, who clearly are having fun, make this “Poppins” return a treat. 

rohan.preston@startribune.com • 612-673-4390 • Twitter: @RohanPreston


    Who: Based on the books of P.L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film. Book by Julian Fellowes with new compositions by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Directed by Richard Eyre and choreographer Matthew Bourne.

    When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 8 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun.

    Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

    Tickets: $39-$135. 1-800-859-7469 or www.hennepintheatretrust.org.

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