Mary Poppins by Delaware County Christian School

Delaware Co Christian 1Mary Poppins – Delaware County Christian School in Newtown Square, PA

March 15, 2016

Review by: Jack D’Emilio of Conestoga High School

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” but it still isn’t sweeter than Delaware County Christian School’s production of Mary Poppins, with music and lyrics by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman.

The musical is based on both the books originally written by P.L. Travers and 1964 Disney film. Premiering in 2004 on West End, the musical found its way to Broadway in 2006, earning seven Tony Award nominations, including a Best Musical nomination, and winning for Best Scenic Design. Mary Poppins was loved by audiences, becoming the 30th longest running show in Broadway history.

The ensemble cast kept up their energy throughout the entire show, never once losing the attention of the audience. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was an especially super-fun number, as well as “Step In Time.” The cast proved to be talented performers, as well as entertaining ones, as they truly brought out and shared with the audience all the wondrous fun that can be had in Mary Poppins.

In the title role, Maya Neal dazzled audiences with her crystal clear vocals and a delightful stage presence that was worthy of such an iconic character. Josh Van Meerbeke (Bert) also charmed audiences off their feet, even when he was covered in soot. Their cheeky interactions combined with the actors’ fantastic chemistry had audiences grinning with every quip.

Speaking of chemistry, George and Winifred Banks (Charles Cobourn and Natalie Marziani) held the audience’s hearts in their hands with every up and down in their relationship. Each of the actors did a great job at accurately portraying the seriousness of the characters, while still keeping up the light, upbeat tone of the show overall.

The set was utterly captivating from the very first reveal of the two-story house structure. The stage crew ran into a few problems early on, but handled them all with poise. Despite those few minor setbacks, the stage crew ran a fantastic show, especially considering the difficulty of the set they had to manipulate. The flying harnesses used as well were truly magical. Seeing Mary Poppins fly across the stage in her iconic umbrella-wielding pose was enough to make audiences cheer with glee every single time.

Overall, Mary Poppins at Delaware County Christian School was certainly quite a “Jolly Holiday!”

Review by: Marissa Emerson of Upper Merion Area High School

With high-flying nannies and mischievous chimney sweeps, Mary Poppins flew into Delaware County Christian School’s theater and dazzled audiences!

The beloved tale of Mary Poppins was written by Pamela Lyndon Travers and published in 1934. An interesting note is the storyline is not entirely the same between the novel and the Disney movie. The stage production (written by playwright Julian Fellowes) hit the Great White Way in 2004, earning seven Tony nominations and winning for Best Scenic Design.

The ensemble cast filled the auditorium with strong vocal sound during group numbers. Their great energy made them fun to watch, and it sometimes appeared that maybe the cast was having more fun than their audience! Well-done group numbers like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” had those in attendance singing along in their seats and tapping their feet.

The role of Mary Poppins is no small undertaking, but Maya Neal did the role immeasurable justice. With vocals sweeter than a spoonful of sugar and fabulously witty line delivery, Neal carried the show through multiple musical numbers and well-paced scenes. Her interactions with Jane and Michael Banks (sixth graders Emma Carington and Benjamin Favino) were natural and showed just how well-rehearsed the cast was. Josh Van Meerbeke (Bert) was another strong performer. He had a marvelous, swanky charm to him, and spoke with a convincing Cockney accent throughout the show. His animated expressions and whimsical vocals were delightful.

Charles Cobourn and Natalie Marziani (Mr. and Mrs. Banks) complemented each other divinely. Their onstage relationship expertly displayed the turbulent effects stress can have on a marriage and the perseverance it takes from both parties to pick up the pieces and make a family whole again. Marziani’s song “Being Mrs. Banks” was a well-done piece, featuring notes in her higher register simply floating through the air, effortlessly.

While scene changes took more time than anticipated, the grandeur of the sets arguably made up for it. Locations in the production ranged from the fabulous multi-leveled house to a sleek white screen backdrop capable of transporting the audience anywhere the cast desired (like a lush park or the steps of a bank) using projected images. Moving chimney tops were featured in a tap dancing number and were impressively versatile in both their quick mobility and stability.

Hat’s off to Delaware County Christian School’s production of Mary Poppins! It was nothing short of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

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