Lively Mary Poppins is glad company indeed

July 29, 2015
Julie Grabowski, Tri-City Voice

The parrot head handled umbrella, the magical carpet bag, the sensible shoes. A StarStruck wind is blowing in Dublin, carrying in the most beloved of nannies to set the world to rights.

Life is unraveling at number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. The work-absorbed and perpetually ordered Mr. Banks has lost sight of the important things in life, his unruly children are plowing through nannies, and his former actress wife is struggling with the expectations of being Mrs. Banks. All seems lost until Mary Poppins arrives, a no-nonsense nanny with an unorthodox approach and a touch of magic who helps them regain and strengthen their family bonds.

StarStruck Theatre closes out their 20th anniversary season with a musical that is practically perfect in every way. Housed in the outstanding Dublin Center for Performing Arts at Dublin High School, producer/director Lori Stokes has orchestrated another memorable show that should have people piling into their cars for an enchanting night out.

Callie Garrett has unflappable poise and presence as Mary Poppins and is most certainly spot on. Her beautiful voice carries the familiar, infectious songs with ease and ownership. The ever-cheerful, jack-of-all-trades Bert is played by a delightful Tim Sanders, who is light of heart and feet, and a charming host.

Grant Ewing gives a sturdy performance as the proper patriarch Mr. Banks and is well-matched with Julia Brunelli as a sympathetic Mrs. Banks. Allayna Slate and Gabriel Lew provide a stream of energy and sass as the Banks children Jane and Michael, with Heather Warren (Mrs. Brill) and Zac Richey (Robertson Ay) always a pleasure as the household staff.

Carly Tilson-Lumetta stands out as the zany Mrs. Corry and is such vivid fun it is too bad the story doesn’t allow for more of her. Kelsey Findlay injects an unexpected and commanding delicious darkness into Act Two as Mr. Banks’ fearsome childhood nanny Miss Andrew. Findlay’s singular “Brimstone and Treacle” is among the most memorable numbers of the night, and Garrett joins in the song’s Part Two for an excellent nanny showdown.

Diane Scherbarth’s costume design gives a vibrant, technicolor punch in “Jolly Holiday” and the effervescent “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” — arguably the best number of the show. The trio of park statues are also a great nod to her work.

Music and vocals are impeccably led by music director Nancy Godfrey with fine footwork from choreographer Jeanne Batacan-Harper. “Step in Time” is high-impact moment with a rooftop full of fantastic dancing and tapping chimney sweeps that bring a grin to the face and a lightness to the heart. Creative lighting and props bring the stars closer to earth in the lovely “Anything Can Happen,” another highlight of the show.

The scene is always beautifully set by designer Stephen C. Wathen with detailed park and city backdrops and flexible stage pieces that settle you in the story. The presentation and look of the show is so naturally engaging you almost forget everything was created and put into place by numerous hard-working hands, so hats off to the entire production team.

“Mary Poppins” delivers all of the musical favorites and story charm that is expected with no buts about it. No wonder that it’s StarStruck that we love!

Get more out of your show experience with a Family Discount Night/Talk Back with Actors on Friday, July 31; take photos with the cast on Saturday, August 1 or dress up as your favorite “Mary Poppins” character on Sunday, August 2 and 9. The Friday, August 7 performance will be ASL interpreted, and the following Saturday is the StarStruck 20th Anniversary Giveaway Night.

Purchase tickets by calling the StarStruck box office at (510) 659-1319 or order online at http://starstrucktheatre.org/buy-tickets/.

Mary Poppins
Saturday, Jul 25 – Sunday, Aug 9
8 p.m., matinees at 3 p.m.
Dublin Center for Performing Arts
8151 Village Pkwy, Dublin
(510) 659-1319
Tickets: $22 – $28