Mary Poppins review: A spoonful of sugar is just what we need right now

Johan Persson
Johan Persson

This show about the world’s most famous flying nanny is supercalifr… actually, I won’t go there. But the blockbuster revival of the 2004 Mary Poppins musical is a highly polished piece of entertainment, hugely uplifting and cheerful, with an undertow of melancholy and the occasional baggy moment.

The dance routines and stage illusions are terrific. It features an exquisitely pert, poised, central performance from Zizi Strallen, a likeable turn from Charlie Stemp as cockney polymath Bert, and a haunting cameo from 86-year-old Petula Clark as the Bird Woman.

It’s also just as mad and anarchic as PL Travers’s books, and the incomparable 1964 Disney film with Julie Andrews from which it borrows most of its songs.

In this version the mystery woman sweeps two children off into random but spectacular adventures. She is vain and capricious but ultimately reconnects the children with their distant banker dad, who was emotionally neutered by his own nanny. Jacob Rees-Mogg has rather spoiled this aspect of the story, to be honest.

Most of the new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe simply move the plot on, but Practically Perfect approaches the sublime catchiness of A Spoonful Of Sugar and Chim Chim Cher-ee from the Sherman brothers’s movie score.

Bob Crowley’s doll’s house set is superb though, and the ensemble powers seamlessly through the set pieces. Strallen and Stemp dance and harmonise beautifully and make their platonic romance entirely credible.

This feel-good extravaganza defies both logic and pessimism. Maybe that’s what we need right now.

Booking to May 3, 2020

Buy tickets with GO London