Gateway’s ‘Mary Poppins’ Soars High in Patchogue

Gateway’s production of Disney’s Mary Poppins is full of warmth, wit and wonder—not to mention high-flying special effects that will leave you breathless.

Mary Poppins is the classic tale of a family in need of help—and help comes in the form of an enchanted (and enchanting) nanny. The story is based on the 1964 movie adaptation of the Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers, which famously starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

Gateway’s production boasts high caliber talent—director Shaun Kerrison directed the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. Tony Mansker played the role of charming chimney sweep Bert for four years on Broadway, and reprises his role for Gateway. Mansker is a spellbinding Bert as he takes us through the story of the Banks family. With just the right amount of confident swagger, Mansker commands the stage—his cockney accent is as endearing as his infatuation with the lovely Mary.

Gail Bennet has performed the role of Mary Poppins over 100 times, starring in the production’s national tour. Bennet is “Practically Perfect” as Mary Poppins, from her rosy cheeks to her classic stance—and those shoes! Bennet was completely immersed in her role from the moment she hit the stage. Her voice was clear and bright, everything I would expect from Mary Poppins. Bennet is the picture of grace, poise and beauty, her clothes always perfect—in red, white and blue. Everyone seemed to rotate around Mary, like the planets revolve around the sun.

The first big ensemble number “Jolly Holiday” was spectacular, as the dreamlike world of Mary Poppins is brought to life, with Mary in a beautiful white dress, twirling around the stage with Bert, members of the ensemble imitating penguins and the Banks children beaming with astonished delight that they may have found the perfect nanny. 

The two Banks children are played by four rotating actors—I was fortunate to see Alison Cordaro playing the role of Jane Banks and Nolan Lyons as Michael Banks. Both were adorable and convincing as the over-privileged, spoiled and affection-starved children of staid Banker George Banks and his wife Winifred. Jonathon Rayson as Mr. Banks was spot on, from his comical expressions to the curl of his moustache.

As Mary attempts to reform the spoiled Banks children, we are taken through some great musical acts. “A Spoonful of Sugar” is a crowd favorite and so much fun. You can’t help but love the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” number. It’s a loud, bold and colorful number, with Mary in her gorgeous blue coat, the ensemble singing and spelling that preposterous word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” with a lot of sass. You will find yourself singing and dancing in your seat, as the humor of it all is infectious.  “Let’s go Fly a Kite” is also terrific, and to see the scene come to life is exhilarating, like something out of a dream.

If I had to choose a favorite number, it would be “A Chimney Swept (ChimChim)/Step In Time” when all the chimney sweeps come out and perform a scene that is both moving and entertaining. The beat is one that goes right to your soul, and there was so much energy vibrating from the performers it was easy to get swept up by the song. The closing number found the audience on its feet, singing and dancing along to a reprise of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

With special aerial effects by Flying by Floy, Disney’s Mary Poppins is another hit for Gateway, one that the entire family can enjoy. At the center of the story is the heartwarming tale of how powerful love can be, especially the love that exists in a family.

“Mary Poppins” is playing at the Patchogue Theater through July 19. Next up on the Patchogue stage is “South Pacific” July 23 – August 9. “Legends in Concert” will return to Patchogue for a week-long engagement August 13–17. Gateway will close its summer season back in Bellport with “The Addams Family” August 27 – September 13. For more information visit pacsc.org.

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