Been writing and blogging and video-ing stuff on the national tour of Mary Poppins for more than a week now, so it was good to get a chance to check out the show for ourselves Sunday night. (We were most happy that Blacklick resident and The Beat video co-star Camille Mancuso was in as Jane Banks...)
The show gets huge points in almost every area -- the cast sparkled (details below), the sets and special effects were magical (way cool to have Bert walking and, in the words of Lionel Ritchie, dancing on the ceiling), the scenery and costumes were lush, colorful and eye-catching and the music well-performed - the singers were solid all-around.
Have to say we felt the story was a bit busy, with plot lines extended or truncated often in inverse proportion. Rarely was the central plot obfuscated, but the journey was a bit bumpy.
Now, to Mancuso's performance. The real beauty was that she looked and sounded the part of Jane Banks. Her accent (as Beat vid viewers can attest) was spot-on, and she played totally natural in character. Not to mention she is a gifted young singer. It's not hard to see the Great White Way in her future.
As was her scene-stealing stage sibling, Talon Ackerman as Michael Banks, who is on his first national tour. Yes, the part is set up for some bonus laughs, but he displayed a fine voice, good timing and, like Mancuso, adeptness with the often difficult choreography. No doubt her veteran "older sister" has helped him out.
The show continues through May 8 at the Ohio Theatre..
One last bit we must share. It's apropos of nothing, but when we chatted with Camille, we also briefly visited with her mom, Christina Mancuso, who told us Camille has been doing theater since she was 3.
"She took to it immediately, you could see it in her face," Christina told us, then dropped this gem.
"When she was 7 years old, her idol was Ethel Merman."
What could be cooler?