At the Ogunquit Playhouse, the summer season is literally flying by with its latest musical, “Mary Poppins.” The family-friendly production is as sweet a treat as the beloved governess’ “spoonful of sugar.”

The Playhouse has spared no expense to bring the Disney classic to its stage. The sets are elaborate, the costumes are gorgeous and the special effects – which include dancing on the ceiling and flying – are definitely a sight to see.

Overall, Ogunquit’s “Mary Poppins” is magical. It’s a world where animated doves fancifully fly over London, a carpetbag is a bottomless treasure-trove, Bert the chimney sweep defies the laws of gravity and Mary Poppins can fly away with her parrot-handled umbrella.

To make the gravity-defying stunts possible, Ogunquit enlisted the help of the renowned theatrical flying company, Flying by Foy. Founder Peter Foy’s ingenuity allowed Mary Martin to fly as Peter Pan on Broadway in 1954. For “Mary Poppins,” the company has created a technical spectacle of grace and agility, with rigging unobtrusively spanning not only the stage, but also the length of the theater.

The playhouse has cast an impressive group of Broadway and National Tour performers to bring “Mary Poppins” to life. Gail Bennett stars as the “practically perfect” governess. She performed the role of Mary Poppins over 100 times in the First National Tour, and it seems second nature to her.

Bennett resembles Julie Andrews, who originated the role in the 1964 film. Like Andrews, she has an extraordinary vocal range, a spring in her straight-backed step and a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Tony Mansker is also returning to Cherry Tree Lane as Bert. He performed the role for four years as an original cast member on Broadway. Mansker is a treasure as the jack-of-all-trades and maestro of magic. He’s absolutely awe-inspiring in “Step in Time,” when he tap dances on the ceiling.

The beautifully performed score features several standout songs. One of the most stunning musical numbers to watch is “Jolly Holiday.” Bennett and Mansker’s pastel costumes are enchanting, the penguin dancers are delightful and Tanner Wilson is a marble marvel as Neleus. The number also features Joseph Hall and Siara Carrillo Tracey delivering strong performances as the children, Michael and Jane Banks.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is another attention-grabber. Mrs. Corry, played by Lisa Donmall-Reeve, and her sweet shop staff are wonderfully outrageous and the choreography is high-energy. The British-born Donmall-Reeve adds authenticity to the London-based tale.

Christiane Noll and Jonathan Rayson are moving as the parents, Winifred and George Banks. The audience’s hearts go out to Winifred on “Being Mrs. Banks,” and Rayson delivers a touching performance of “A Man Has Dreams.”

Although she appears in only two scenes, Mr. Banks’ childhood nanny, Miss Andrew, is a definite audience favorite. Sandy Rosenberg is unforgettable in the role, vocally battling Bennett’s Mary Poppins on “Brimstone and Treacle.” She is also memorable as the Bird Woman on “Feed the Birds,” delivering a poignant duet with Bennett.

“Mary Poppins” is infectious. With songs such as “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Practically Perfect,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” audiences are guaranteed to leave the musical with a spring in their step. Ogunguit’s rendition captures the hearts and imagination of all ages, young and old.

April Boyle is a free-lance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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