I can’t deny it. Mary Poppins is one of my favourite characters ever. I fell in love with her as a child - mostly because of the charm that Julie Andrews oozed during the marvellous Disney film. I also enjoyed the Emily Blunt follow on movie, but I don’t think it was quite as marvellous as the first film. That’s why I was quite anxious about going to see the West End Musical. I knew that it couldn’t be identical and that there would be some new songs interjected into it.
Well… it didn’t disappoint and was actually quite the spectacle!
It’s quite interesting to study the mannerisms of Mary Poppins. For example she like to stand with her heels together in what ballet dancers would call “first position”. This is the iconic pose she maintains whilst her umbrella is open and she floats magestically into the air as she flies around the stage. She also elongates her neck at all times so that her spine appears to be completely straight. There is no slouching in this performance. But, If I were lucky enough to ever get the chance to play this character, the one mannerism I think is key to making the character a success, and so likeable, is her creative expression that she does when inventing the fun games or activities with the children. It’s like she purses her lips together, lifts her cheek bones up and then looks upwards and to one side using only her eyeballs. Julie Andrews did it in a kind of cheeky way, Emily Blunt in a slightly more cunning way, and they used this expression during the performance to great success.
The singing style of Mary Poppins is and in my view should be as close to Julie Andrews as possible. She is perfection. Classically trained soprano, with a high and shimmering tone, yet some how close to speech and easily transitioned into patter. It is a very challenging role for that reason. She must sound as “Practically Perfect” as she professes to be.
It is such a shame that this show is now closed on the West End. But I am so grateful that I was able to go and do some research on the character and the songs before it did. I shall have to get my hands on a vocal score and start learning all the songs just in case they decide to hold auditions again any time soon.
Jennifer Coleman - is a classical / opera singer, and vocal coach, performing across the UK and internationally.