This new cast recording of the Disney production is lively and charming from start to finish.
The second that you hear the audience who were in attendance at the performance when this cast recording was recorded, you are automatically swept to the Prince Edward Theatre and the joy that being in a theatre can bring. This feeling of joyfulness is consistent in this lively and enjoyable album.
The gorgeous overture, sets up not only the story nicely but also gives the listener a strong idea of the magical and adventurous musical treat that they are in for. It is wonderfully performed by the orchestra, who really capture the spirit and wonder of the story that is about to unfold – thanks of course as well to William David Brohn’s lavish orchestrations.
From there on in, the listener is taken on a wonderful musical journey that combines the Sherman Brothers original songs with newer numbers created by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It has to be said that it isn’t always easy to create new songs to fit around the classic ones, but here Stiles and Drewe are able to add something new and different – particularly with songs such as ‘Let’s Hope She Will Stay’ and ‘A Shooting Star’ being a couple of lovely additions that allow other characters to be more closely involved in the central story.
But even with the classic songs such as ‘Jolly Holiday’ and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, the orchestrations and renditions are given a complete makeover to have their own identities – not to be compared with the film. In particular, the slow build up in ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and ‘Step in Time’ add anticipation and joy as the audience know exactly what is coming next.
The album is also filled with heaps of personality and it is possible to keep up with what is happening in the story thanks to plenty of inclusion of dialogue. It is consistently playful to listen to with ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ and ‘Cherry Tree Lane/ The Perfect Nanny’ – really soaring musically.
There are also some lovely performances from the cast as well. Charlie Stemp as Bert is cheeky and lively as can be heard on ‘Jolly Holiday’ and ‘Step in Time’ – really making the role his own. Zizi Strallen is suitable prim and proper as Mary Poppins with her rendition of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ highlighting her elegant vocals. There is also strong support from Joseph Millson as the uptight George Banks and Amy Griffiths offers an immensely warm and likeable performance as Winifred Banks.
While it might be some time before we can all return to the theatre to catch this production, this cast recording manages to combine wonderful storytelling with plenty of enjoyable performances to keep us all going until the day we can step back into the Prince Edward Theatre again. It is a wonderfully warm album that is practically perfect in every way.
By Emma Clarendon
Mary Poppins: The Definitive Supercalifragilistic 2020 Cast Recording is available to buy and download now.