Disney's Mary Poppins has a word for when you are at a loss for words. That word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
I think I am going to go with that very word when I describe the Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" that I went to see at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh. It says it all. No better word fits.
Why you might ask? The musical was ... odd. Don't get me wrong, the cast was amazing. Kudos to each of them for a job well done. And the crew did a great job with the set and keeping things going. The problem lies in the way the story was presented - nothing like the Julie Andrews' movie we have come to know and love.
And I know the movie. At one time, I could recite every line and sing every song. It makes the top five in my movie picks. But the musical version, I don't know...
The basic storyline was the same. Dad only focuses on the money and not his family. Nanny comes in to help Dad see the error of his ways. You know the drill.
And the "Step in Time" song and dance number was phenomenal, even though it was out of place from the original. The guy who played Bert even tap danced all the way around the stage, up the walls and across the ceiling. It was, hands down, the best scene in the play.
That's where the similarities end.
Mary Poppins leaves at the end of Act One, only to return in Act Two. However, in the mean time, another nanny fills her shoes. Come on. There is no other nanny. Mary Poppins doesn't leave until everything is taken care of, and Dad has seen the "light."
They took out the carousel race and the dancing penguins only to replace them with a dancing statue. They took out the tea party on the ceiling and inserted a shop with dancing gypsy-like people who also sing. While the bright colors were impressive, it just didn't work for me.
They added dancing toys that were actually a little creepy. Had my son gone, he probably would have been freaked out. I was a little freaked out. I didn't see how that scene added anything to the value of the story.
A scene set in the kitchen of the house was added. A butler replaced one of the maids. More focus, too much in my humble opinion, was placed on the mother.
While the changes bothered me very much, the overall play was great. However, you had to completely forget the movie you have seen hundreds of time. If you even tried to compare the two, you couldn't enjoy yourself. That's what happened to me during the first act. I was too busy being annoyed that it wasn't what I had expected. Once I accepted that they were two different versions of the same story, it got easier to take.
Bert and Mary Poppins got standing ovations, as well they should. Without them, the play, and the story itself, would be nothing.
Looking back on the whole experience, I still scratch my head and wonder why they made so many changes to a "practically perfect" story.
All I can say is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is a copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)