“Children who refuse to learn will not return”
I only actually got round to seeing the ‘new’ musical version of Mary Poppins a couple of years ago at the Curve in Leicester, ahead of its mammoth tour, and so the novelty of finally seeing it onstage distracted me a little from the finer details of the score, which merged the original of Robert B Sherman and Richard M Sherman with new songs and arrangements from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
And listening to it a couple of times, I think I find myself slightly less enamoured of the interventions. That’s not to detract from the quality of the performances – Laura Michelle Kelly makes for a vibrant Mary, Gavin Lee a perky Bert, and the supporting cast is blessed by the likes of David Haig and Linzi Hateley as the Banks, Rosie Ashe as the nefarious Miss Andrew and Jenny Galloway, Melanie La Barrie, and Claire Machin too.
But for every exuberant new take (‘Step In Time’ is a particular delight), there’s a so-so new song (could you sing ‘Temper Temper’ again?). And it is a disparity that can only be heightened by just how well known the original film’s score is. Stiles and Drewe were on a hiding to nothing there and so they should be at least be commended for doing enough of a job that works well in the fleeting magic onstage, if not quite under the scrutiny of a record in your own home.