It is not every day that you get to describe a musical as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” But Maine State Music Theatre’s “Mary Poppins” most definitely lives up to its famous 34-letter adjective.

For 49 years, generations of children have grown up experiencing the magic of “Mary Poppins” on film. 

Maine State Music Theatre captured the fantastical world Friday.

It’s a tall order to bring a legendary film like “Mary Poppins” to the stage. The movie’s cinematography was groundbreaking, and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke were unforgettable as Mary Poppins and Bert. But director Marc Robin is clearly up for the challenge of staging the musical at Maine State Music Theatre.

The sets by scenic designer Charles S. Kading are spectacular, the choreography by Robin is mesmerizing and the cast’s enthusiasm for the production is downright infectious.

Lauren Blackman dons Mary Poppins’ sensible shoes, and she isn’t just “practically perfect.” She’s perfectly cast as the musical’s enchanting nanny.  There’s a twinkle in her eyes and a spring in her step that instantly make you believe she did blow in on a magical wind. And to watch her glide in with her umbrella is a sight to see in itself — toes pointed out and an unwavering.

She delivers such well-known songs as “Practically Perfect” and “A Spoonful of Sugar” with a beautiful soprano that embodies Mary Poppins’ firm yet sweet disposition.

The production is called “Mary Poppins,” but it wouldn’t nearly be as magical without Poppins’ pal, Bert. Tyler Hanes is positively enchanting as the rakish jack-of-all-trades. He performs the role with a cockney British accent that he maintains throughout, even while singing such beloved songs as “All My Own Work,” “Twists and Turns” and “Chim Chiminey.”

Hanes’ energy level is astounding, particularly on top of all the dancing he does in this production. Ballet, tap and waltz — he does it all, and does it with breathtaking precision. His gravity-defying tap-dancing on “Step in Time” was awe-inspiring Friday.

“Step in Time” was exceptionally well choreographed, as was the stupendous “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”  The cast was a marvel to watch in both.

Sophie Calderwood and Alec Shiman have been delightfully cast as the spirited Banks children, Jane and Michael. Both reveled in their roles Friday, wholeheartedly embracing the production’s whimsy.

The production has a very strong cast, with many outstanding performances. Heidi Kettenring and Jeff Coon are fantastic as Winifred and George Banks.  Charis Leos is heartwarming as the Bird Woman.

Chuck Ragsdale and Susan Cella are thoroughly entertaining as the comedic servants, Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay, as is David Girolmo as the ridiculously coiffed Bank Chairman.  And Janelle Robinson is out of this world as Miss Andrew on “Brimstone and Treacle.”

“Mary Poppins” is a spellbinding production, and Robin has clearly given it careful thought, right down to the smallest detail, such as Buddy Reeder’s (policeman/ensemble) subtle homage to the film’s dancing penguins.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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