This stage adaptation does have its share of memorable moments. Foremost is the most resounding audience-rouser of the evening, the above-mentioned full-court press by the chimney sweeps across rooftops, high-stepping through the up-tempo "Step in Time." I suspect that if more of the numbers rose to that level of showmanship and musicality, Mary Poppins would have been more of a critic-pleaser as well as a crowd-pleaser.
A charming inclusion is the presence of Mr. Banks's childhood nemesis, Nanny Andrew (Q. Smith), whose glowering discipline he now credits with making a man of him. In widow-weeds black, she sweeps in at the beginning of Act Two, bellowing out "Brimstone and Treacle" to contrast with that shockingly indulgent spoonful of sugar. Like a fairy godmother, Ms. Poppins — who had left, her work seemingly done, at the end of the previous act — promptly arrives to poof her away to, it appears, hell.
Like its namesake, this Mary Poppins is only for kids who can take the bitter with the sweet.
, Mary Poppins, comedy, Providence Performing Arts Center, More