It’s no great secret that Disney has really expanded their outreach by venturing into live theater. Since the success of “The Lion King” and the expansion of the famous “Beauty and the Beast” live show into a full-length musical, theatergoers everywhere have enjoyed both amateur and professional productions of their favorite Disney classics. “Mary Poppins” is certainly no exception to the rule, and so I traveled to the beautiful Niagara Falls High School auditorium to take in Theatre in the Mist’s production.
. . .the Theatre in the Mist production of “Mary Poppins” will have Disney parents and children alike happy they attended.
I want to preface this review by saying this: there is a definitive line to be drawn between the professional theaters in Buffalo and the community theaters in Buffalo when it comes to “dramatic criticism.” One is not better than the other, they are simply separate mediums. In my eyes, it is the intent of the performer that draws the distinction. In “professional” theater, actors are paid, usually a decent sum, for their performances; the product is expected to have a higher quality. In “community” theater, usually actors are participating as a hobby; every member of the production works just as hard, but it’s more about having fun. It’s the difference between competitive recreational league sports and a pickup game, if I can make a sports analogy.
Theatre in the Mist has been offering quality community theater to Niagara County for several years now, so I was extremely excited to see their take on this classic. They’ve assembled a team of performers with varying backgrounds to bring this extremely tech-heavy production to life. Aided by the NFHS’ state of the art facility, TITM makes a valiant effort at “Mary Poppins.” They’ve rented costumes, which are first rate, and they’ve managed to faithfully execute some of the “tricks” that made the show so successful on Broadway. Mary flying across the stage to end Act One will never fail to impress me. While TITM has designed some beautiful sets, their magnitude made for some opening night snafus. That being said, the production makes the most out of the space they’re afforded.
As far as performances go, Erin Coyle is well worth the drive. I’d heard talk that this is a dream role for her, and there’s no wonder why. She’s (and I hate myself for making this pun) “practically perfect in every way.” Corey Bieber as the lovable chimney sweep Bert is equally well-cast. Bert is given additionally responsibilities as the audience’s narrator in the musical, and Bieber handles it well. He’s also a consummate song-and-dance man, channeling his Van Dyke for sure. Particularly impressive in this production is its strong ensemble, featuring a number of excellent dancers. There is a scene involving dancing statues that was particularly satisfying. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Alex Gentile, who seems to be made of rubber. His physical comedy skills are well beyond his years, and he’s destined to play Cosmo Brown in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
All in all, the Theatre in the Mist production of “Mary Poppins” will have Disney parents and children alike happy they attended. Once the show tightens up (Act One ran closer to two hours than one and a half) it is bound to leave audiences humming and “stepping in time” out of the auditorium.
Running Time: Approximately 2 Hours 45 Minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
“Mary Poppins” runs until September 22, 2018 and is produced by Theatre In The Mist. For more information, click here.