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June 3, 2011
This is one of those times when it's good to be a reviewer.
It was opening night of Mary Poppins, the touring Broadway production, in Sacramento. I wasn't as excited about seeing the show (ho-hum, another Disney musical) as I was about debuting my new Chinese coat. Only my mother had seen me in it since they packed it up for me on the ship. (Walt saw it when I snuck it off the rack and showed it to him after hours one night when the tailor had gone to bed.)
I planned what I was going to wear with it and I promised several on Facebook that I would be sure to get a picture of myself in the coat.
Then, around 4, I heard a weather report that a storm was expected to blow into Sacramento in the evening and I chickened out. The last thing they said to me was "NO WATER" and told me only to have the coat dry cleaned. I wasn't going to take it out to get rained on. So I decided not to wear it...but I did put it on for a photo.
When we emerged from the Sacramento Community theater at 11 p.m. tonight and the ground was dry and not a cloud in the sky, I was sorry I had left it at home -- but at least you can now see me in the jacket after all this hype the past couple of weeks.
So that leaves the big story of the day the opening of Mary Poppins. As I said above, I really wasn't all that excited about it; I'd seen the movie and knew what to expect. I figured it would be good. But...oh my was it good!
First of all, our seats were 6th row center, better than I usually get (usually we are farther over on the side). Second, the people sitting next to us were the parents of Nicholas Dromard, who plays Bert in the show. He played the role on Broadway and played Fiyero in Wicked in the San Francisco production for a year and a half. He's done 17 shows in New York and he has the proudest mother in the world. She told me his brother is also on the stage, but in dramas rather than musicals.
Fortunately he's great in the role. A more believable accent than Dick Van Dyke (but then that's not difficult!) and just as lovable.
Stefanie Leigh is also excellent as Mary, though I suspect that any competent singer/actress could do as well.
But the sets and the special effects were in some cases jaw-dropping. They give the critics a sheet of "fun facts" and here are some that I know Jeri will appreciate:
Some facts about lighting -- the show uses 174 moving lights, 576 dimmers and 270 lighting fixture. It has >350 lighting cues.
After a lot of facts about costumes (like there are 250 costume looks, 35 women's hats, and each "starlighter costume" has over 800 hand-sewn crystal stars) it mentions that Bert has a dresser whose primary task is to follow him around backstage with water bottle. Given how much he moves during the show, I'm not surprised.
One of the most amazing numbers is "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (yes, I spelled that without looking it up--and got it right too!), with its mile-a-minute hand, arm and leg movements. The fun facts sheet says "The first thing that the actors learn during the rehearsal process are the letters for 'Supercal...' [sic] Traditionally, they spend several hours per day during the first week to learn the complicated choreography." I'll bet!
The "11 o'clock number" (the one near the end of the show that wakes everybody up" is an amazing "Step in Time," the number for the chimney sweeps. It's dazzling.
This will be a fun review to write. It should write itself, with the help of the fun facts.
PHOTO OF THE DAY