Monday, September 28, 2009

Dallas Summer Musicals presents "Mary Poppins" at Fair Park

Went to see the matinee showing of Mary Poppins on Sunday with the family. I'm not a movie critic nor do I get paid to criticize (I wish) but I do know what me and the family like which I would think could translate to a lot of families in the metroplex.

With that said, I must say that I was disappointed in this show. I wasn't disappointed in its entirety as not everything sucked in Act I (although about 85% did) and I didn't stay for Act II. In fact, I think most of the people on my row and the row in front of us left during intermission and did not return. I know this because they were actually leaving the building before we did.

I guess let's start with the positives. Mary Poppins was very strong. She acted and sang very well. Truly the lead in all ways. Bert was very, very weak. His rendition of Chim Chim Cher-ee was lackluster. I didn't feel any excitement, enthusiasm or anything from him which was the case with a lot of the characters in Act I. Mrs. Banks was just as weak as Bert. Mr. Banks was much stronger than Bert and Mrs. Banks but even he did not grab any interest from us. There were moments of short-lived excitement but I did find myself closing my eyes and almost nodding off, which I never felt like doing during Peter Pan, The Lion King or Miss Saigon. You can read an article here as long as it lasts at the Dallas News from a reviewer who felt somewhat the same as us.

I guess to give them the benefit of the doubt, a few of the roles were being done by understudies (I guess they are called). Bert was one of them. The reviewer in the article said the regular lead took ill before Friday's performance and I assume he was still ill for ours at 1:30pm Sunday. It's a pity. Bert has a lot of stage time and if the original actor is as good as the reviewer said, we might have endured longer. Maybe.

I haven't seen the movie Mary Poppins in like 20+ years. I can honestly say I've probably only seen it max two times. I mention this as I can't fully compare the movie acts to the play acts. The wife did say that the toy scene was new and the park scene was changed. The toys come alive during sleep for the children because the children don't appreciate them. It's sort of a haunting theme where they are basically saying, "If you don't take care of us, we'll haunt your ass!" It was kind of creepy and it should teach children, real-life children, to be afraid...very, very afraid! The original park scene had Bert dance with penguins but in this rendition he dances with statues that "come alive." It was kind of freaky too but interesting at the same time. It was probably Bert's best performance for me during Act I.

Act I was way too long. It was something around an hour and a half of dragging drudgery! The play started at 1:30pm and intermission, end of Act I, came about 3:15pm. I can be exact about the 1 1/2 hours because I'm sure they didn't start exactly at 1:30pm but no later than 1:45pm and I looked my watch at 3:30pm after the intermission had already begun for a few minutes or so.

I wanted to like the play. I wanted to stay for the second act just to see if the overall performances would get better. We all did. As a family, though, we decided we were not wowed and could pass on the second act. We didn't want to chance it just to find more disappointment. Oh yeah, the reviewer mentioned about how Mary took to the "sky" at the end. We heard about that before Friday and how it was the highlight of the show. If that's the case, it really isn't worth the money to see the entire thing if you ask me. Besides, Mary took flight at the end of Act I. It wasn't from the stage to out over the audience but it was from stage left to stage right or vice versa.

Overall the staging was pretty decent. The Banks' living room, the Banks' kitchen, Mary's room and the park settings were all pretty well designed and thought out in the way they transition. It was just disappointing that the acting and some singing could not equal them.

The best thing about a play at Fair Park is going while the State Fair of Texas is in session. With your theater ticket, comes admission into the Fair. It's not free but it makes the day more fun if you can enjoy it. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully enjoy it. The oldest childs was sick but endured through half the play. We did enter the Fair to get some snackings--a funnel cake, a strawberry chill and two dollar dogs. The funny thing about the Fair though is that at 3:45pm on Sunday it was dead! I've been to the Fair when you can barely have elbow room to walk. We could have driven our CRV down the aisles/lanes and not have to worry about hitting anyone. I'm thinking either the economy has really taken its toll or maybe a lot of people don't want to come to first weekend or there was some event people were attending inside a buidling somewhere. I don't know. It was just not busy at all.

So, there's my "short" review of the play. Take it for what you want. I'm just a layman who knows what he likes and it wasn't Mary Poppins (the play) because I did like Mary Poppins the character in this play. Maybe she can come over and discipline me with her umbrell...uh...oops, went on a tangent there.

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