Sunday, May 17, 2009
Our Christmas Present
On Saturday, Darren, Lucy, and I headed to Chicago to see our Christmas present from Chuck and Rome--"Mary Poppins," the Broadway show.
Unfortunately, children under the age of 5 were not allowed at the theater (though by the way? We saw all sorts of people violating that rule), so Elaine couldn't go with us. I had however, arranged a fun day for her. Sarah and Lucho and their kids, all of whom Elaine loves so much, graciously offered to take her for the day. Saturday morning I lifted her up on my lap and told her that she would be spending the day with them and that I would give her gift cards for Cold Stone Creamery so she could take them all out for ice cream.
When Lucy came in the room, Elaine burst out, "I'm going to _______'s house and have ice cream AND YOU'RE NOT!" Lucy completely forgot she was going to see "Mary Poppins" and started to cry. Then I had to take her aside and explain that Elaine is too little to do almost all of the fun, exciting things that she gets to do so, while it was unkind of her to say that, we should try to understand that this is a big deal for her. AND BESIDES YOU ARE GOING TO A BROADWAY SHOW AND SHE IS NOT.
We got all that settled and Elaine bundled off, and we set out. We met Chuck and Rome at the theater, and the show started. Now, almost everyone has seen the Disney movie, and I was expecting a recreation of that. I was interested to see how they would do all the magic of the film.
I was fascinated to see almost right away that they were actually not going to recreate the film; instead they culled much of the material from the books. As a child, I checked, rechecked, and rerechecked all of the P.L. Travers' books out of the library, so I was thrilled. Don't get me wrong--I absolutely love the movie, but it is Disneyfied. Julie Andrews is very...sweet in the movie, while the Mary Poppins of the book was much more tart.
In the movie, Mary Poppins pretty much performs all the magic, but the beauty of the books was that magical things happened all around simply by virtue of Mary Poppins being there. Shops appeared that weren't there normally. In fact, in one of my favorite scenes--they did the gingerbread stars from Mrs. Corry's shop that became real stars. On the stage, there were twinkling lights everywhere; then they spread out over the audience and one landed on Lucy's dress! That was a thrill--that she got a star on her.
The show also did the part from the books about the statues in the park coming to life, including Neleus. Keep in mind, these were Greco-Roman statues. That's all I'll say. During intermission, Rome leaned over and said to me, "That statue dancing around was making Chuck nervous." Then Chuck said, "Yeah, was that one of the parts from the book?" I said, "Yes, in the movie during the part where they went into the sidewalk chalk picture, they changed it to animation and they had penguins and the horse race." Chuck answered, "I'm really not in favor of Disney-fying things, but that was a good call on their part. Couldn't that statue guy at least be wearing some sort of fig leaves or toga or something?"
They also included the evil Nanny Andrew who was fantastic--that was one of our favorite bits. That lady had some unbelievable lungs on her. Also, the music from the movie was interwoven thoughout since everybody loves that. They would perform the familiar songs but in scenes that were in the books, plus there were new songs added. Of course they had "Spoonful of Sugar," "Chim-chim-enee," "Supercalifrageliciousexpealidocious" (I'm not even going to bother checking if I've spelled that right--but that number brought the house down). The highlight for me was my personal favorite number, "Step in Time," with all the chimney sweeps on the rooftops of London. Bert (who was phenomenal) not only walked up the (HUGE, TALL) walls of the stage but also danced on the ceiling. The special effects throughout were amazing.
One of the coolest parts of the show to me was the juxtaposition of color. In the movie, everything is sort of brightly colored, Disney-washed. The stage show did a wonderful job of showing the grey, wet, dreary side of London and rather gloomy interior of the Banks' house. Then each time there was a magic scene with Mary Poppins, the sets and costumes were in such bright colors it almost hurt your eyes.
The finale was spectacular. Throughout the show, Mary Poppins had flown (she had left the Banks' and come back--another scene from the books) but only on the stage. When she left the Banks' house for the last time, she opened her umbrella and flew up. Then to everyone's delight, she flew out over the audience on the main floor. Then to exuberant cheering from everyone, she flew up over the audience in the balcony. Lucy was so fun to watch during this part--she was just beside herself.
The show lasted three hours, but it didn't seem like it at all. What an experience. Lucy talked about it the whole way home and this morning too. I wish everyone could go see it--so be on the lookout if it comes to your area! We got back to pick up Elaine around 7. She had had a lovely day and thought she'd gotten the better of the bargain, especially since she had seen Isabella's dance recital, climbed in their treehouse, and gotten to eat at Beef-a-roo.
Everyone had a great day and was happy!