Is there something beyond practically perfect?
Because that’s the best description of the Rochester Civic Theatre production of “Mary Poppins,” which opened last Friday. With Mariya Maragos, in a stellar performance as the magical nanny Mary Poppins, and the utterly charming duo of Castle Dettinger and Kaitlyn Quimby as the Banks family children, how can it miss?
This is a larger-than-life, colorful and vibrant musical production, and it’s fun for the entire family — witness the many children who sat enrapt through Friday’s opening three-hour performance.
We’ve mentioned three cast members so far. Maragos, from the time Mary Poppins introduces herself as “practically perfect,” completely inhabits her character with a consistency of voice, personality and physicality that is remarkable in the amount of concentration and dedication it must entail. She simply becomes Mary Poppins, with no indication that there is any acting taking place.
Dettinger and Quimby, both making their RCT main stage debuts, are darling and display an unusually sharp sense of timing, helping to make sure none of the humor in their lines gets lost.
But it doesn’t stop with these three. Director Greg Miller has assembled a cast that does RCT proud. Jim Haase carries much of the narrative as Bert, the big-hearted chimney sweep. He is joined by Audrey Rinkoski, as Mrs. Banks, Scott Stekel as Mr. Banks, Cynthia Biorn as the Banks’ maid, Jordan Boettcher as their butler, MIchele Nyman as mean Miss Andrew and a large ensemble.
Several of the songs are well-known from the Walt Disney film of “Mary Poppins.” “A Spoonful of Sugar” is exactly that, while “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” appropriately soars. These upbeat tunes are balanced by a breathtakingly lovely duet by Maragos and Ruth Casper on the melancholy “Feed the Birds.”
If you enjoy audience participation, be ready to try to keep up with the incredibly complicated gymnastics with which the cast performs “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” And watch your feet if the dancing chimney sweeps make a sweep through your row.
The orchestra, directed by Jan Matson, is seated in front of a huge backdrop of the London skyline, courtesy of set designer Bret Conrad. Todd Schroeder and Janet Roeder and their technical crew also deserve recognition for solving the many “magical” requirements of the script.
Miller had promised that “Mary Poppins” would be a big show. There are times when it almost too big, when it goes right up to the border that says “Overdone.” Most of the time, though, it is practically perfect.
What: “Mary Poppins”
When: Through April 24
Where: Rochester Civic Theatre.
Tickets: The entire run is sold out; call the box office regarding returns and waiting list: 507-282-8481.