Sunset Playhouse produces a magical ‘Mary Poppins’

By JULIE McHALE - Post Theater Critic

Oct. 18, 2018

 Briana Rose Lipor plays the title role in Sunset Playhouse’s “Mary Poppins.”
Photo courtesy of Sunset Playhouse

ELM GROVE — During the curtain call, which followed this marvelous production of “Mary Poppins,” I wish the director, Nate C. Adams, had appeared so we could have given him his well-deserved accolades.

The assemblage of talents he gathered and guided brought us a musical not to be soon forgotten.

The 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke made this musical a classic, but the Broadway show that came out in 2004 was a big hit, too, and has been touring the world ever since.

One of its many universal appeals, besides its hopeful, positive attitude, is its share of magical tricks, including the mysterious contents of Mary’s bag, her ability to fly and the chimney sweeps’ tricky climbs up vertical surfaces.

As soon as we meet Briana Rose Lipor as Mary Poppins and Eric Welch as Bert, we know we are in for a melodic and dramatic treat. Add Brant Allen as the officious George Banks and Carrie A. Gray as his beautiful wife Winifred, and we realize that we’re in for a quadruple blessing. All have impressive voices and are able to fully realize their characters.

Things are not going smoothly at the Banks household — George is a constant crab; his patient, long-suffering wife has about had it with him and her life in general; four unhappy nannies have left their ornery, uncooperative charges, Jane and Michael (Ella Rose Kleefisch and Casey Westphal); and the housekeeper, Mrs. Brill (Antoinette Stikl), is taking out her frustration on the poor butler von Hussler (Brad Skonecki), all of whom played their parts with a flair.

One of the cameo roles, the bird woman, was beautifully rendered by Liz Norton, who was especially affecting in her “Feed the Birds.” That woman’s soul always shines through in all her roles.

Everything begins to change when Mary Poppins suddenly appears upon the scene and begins to take charge of everything. She brings out hope, imagination, and an unusual mix of ingenuity and propriety in everyone she meets.

She encourages responsibility, independence, resiliency and generosity.

Bert’s infectious, impish spirit permeated every scene he was in, The most memorable songs are familiar to us all — “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and the tongue-twisting “Supercalifragilisticexpialido-cious,” which the entire cast aced. But two others that should make the list are “A Man Has Dreams,” nicely rendered by George, and “Anything Can Happen.”

Choreographer and dialect coach Ashley Patin certainly more than contributed her share to the formidable mix, along with scenic designer and technical director Matthew Carr and costumer Lisa Quinn.

See this one. It’s one of the most professional musicals I’ve ever seen at a community theater.

At a glance
“Mary Poppins”

The musical runs through Nov. 4 at Sunset Playhouse, 700 Wall St., Elm Grove. Call 262-782-4430 or visit