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Review: ‘Mary Poppins’ at Charm City Players

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For a day of family fun, it doesn’t get much better than Charm City Players. Charm City’s current production, Mary Poppins, continues their tradition of affordable family entertainment helmed by talented actors and showcasing large ensembles of talented area children.

Mary Poppins tells the story of the quirky, magical nanny who brings harmony to the household of George and Winnifred Banks, whose unruly children, Jane and Michael, have proven too much for ordinary nannies to handle.

The Charm City Players’ production features all the magic that children expect out of Mary Poppins: She flies, she brings dolls to life, she moves objects with a snap of her fingers.

Katie Cashin as Mary Poppins. Photo courtesy of Charm City Players.

Katie Cashin did a fine job in the lead role of Mary. Her voice was practically perfect for the role, and my children found her entrancing in “A Spoonful of Sugar.” Her trusty sidekick Bert, played by E. Lee Nicol, was likeable and entertaining in numbers such as “Jolly Holiday” and “Step in Time.”

In the roles of parents George and Winifred Banks, James Gilbert and Elton Elizabeth Knupp did a great job. It was fun to watch Gilbert make the journey from curmudgeonly banker to sensitive father and I really enjoyed the pairing of Gilbert and Cashin’s voices on the number “Good for Nothing/Being Mrs. Banks.”

But the real stars of the show for me were Jane and Michael Banks, played with precision beyond their years by the young Heidi Theissen and Logan T. Dubel. These young performers kept pace with their adult counterparts, displayed excellent acting skills, and outstanding vocals. The pair achieved beautiful harmony in “Let’s Hope She Will Stay.”

The primary Mary Poppins set was the ground floor of the Banks’ house. Stephen Napp and Annmarie Pallanck designed a cozy Edwardian living space replete with floral wallpaper, wooden stairs and period furniture. The team did a good job with scene changes, with rolling scenery brought on to depict Jane and Michael’s nursery as well as the Banks family kitchen. Several scenes, however, were performed on a blank stage in front of a closed black curtain and I do feel that those scenes would have benefited from some additional scenery, such as a few trees or streetlamps to indicate the setting.

Katie Cashin as Mary Poppins and E. Lee Nicol as Bert. Photo courtesy of Charm City Players.

I also felt that the production could have used some brighter lighting overall. The stage felt a bit dark. Most specifically, when Mary Poppins flies across the stage, her dark coat and lack of spotlighting caused her to blend into the dark curtain behind her.

But Mary Poppins’ coats (she wears a red one and a blue one during the show) were phenomenal, as were the rest of the perfectly-Edwardian period costumes. The team of Robin Baux, Mary Gorman, Mary Hoover, Lynn Kellner and Sandy Rybczynski clearly did their homework when choosing the red and white pinstriped coat worn by Bert and the Edwardian children’s outfits worn by Jane and Michael.

In true Charm City Players fashion, each of the show’s big numbers (choreographed by Rosalyn Ross) featured a large ensemble of children affiliated with the theater. What a fun opportunity for children to experience the stage.

Running Time: Three hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Mary Poppins plays through April 2, 2017 at Charm City Players performing at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Auditorium in Mercy High School – 1300 East Northern Parkway, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, go to the box office or go online.

Note: Select performances offer an optional pre-theater tea party for an additional cost. Tea party includes light food and drink and the opportunity to meet cast members.

ADDITIONAL CAST MEMBERS: ASHLEY DAWSON, DAVE GUY, KENDRA KEISER, CHRISTOPHER LANGE, SHARON ZELEFSKY, JOE ARNETT, OLIVIA BARRY, CAROLINE BAUX, ABIGAIL DAHLING, JACK DAVIS, AVERY DEBORDE, NATALIE DIXON, ANN ELLIOTT, FREDERICK FRYE, LILLIAN GILBERT, MORGAN GONCE, TAYLOR GONCE, EMMA HAMMETT, CHRISTINA RAMSEY-HARRIS, CHELSEA HINES, ELLIE KILLIAN, ABIGAIL KING, ISABELLA KING, ALLIE KNUPP, HALEY KNUPP, BRIGID KATHLEEN LALLY, VIOLET MACDONALD, ABIGAIL MEYERS, ELIZABETH MINGO, ADALYN MURVEIT, CHRISTINA NAPP, PARKER S. NAPP, ANNMARIE PALLANCK, JEANETTE PALLANCK, JESSICA PALLANCK, KATHRYN PATURZO, STEPHANIE PERRIN, KRISTIN RIGSBY, B. THOMAS RINALDI, ROSALYN ROSS, SARINA SAKI, JACQUELINE ANNE SIBILA, RAECINE SINGLETARY, HOPE STANDISH-PALLANCK, LUKE ULRICH, and CARA WILLIAMS.

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