If you’re shopping for family-friendly, child-oriented summer entertainment, look no further than the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s ongoing production of the musical fantasy “Mary Poppins.”
Based on the classic children’s books by P.L. Travers and the 1964 movie produced by Walt Disney Studios, it’s hard to imagine anything you’d find on stage or screen nowadays being as stubbornly inoffensive as “Mary Poppins” the musical.
With music mostly cribbed from the Disney movie, this UFOMT production features fine acting, excellent vocal performances, spirited dancing, imaginative set designs and wild costuming. It’s a real treat for both the eye and the ear.
Amanda Compton LoPresti makes her UFOMT debut in the title role of the magical nanny who can dispense both child psychology and family therapy with all-too English certainty, then fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Her performance was flawless, including weathering a couple of minor costume and set glitches with a stiff upper lip on opening night.
Mary Poppins is aided and abetted in her crusade to alter the dynamics of a typically Edwardian family by another UFOMT newcomer, Timothy Steward. As the chimney sweep Bert, Stewart serves as the musical’s narrator and provides much of its comic relief.
Appearing as the subject of Mary’s re-education efforts in the Banks family are Mia Jane Ballam, Boston Clemens, Brandon Hendrickson and Molly Mustonen. Also lurking in the Banks’ household are Meami Maszewski and Sam Lariviere as a pair of domestics who never seem to get a break.
UFOMT veterans rounding out the cast are W. Lee Daily, Cary J. Youmans and Kevin Nakatani in a variety of zany character roles.
UFOMT founder Michael Ballam has admitted that part of his motive for selecting “Mary Poppins” was as a vehicle to showcase the talents of the theatre company’s 2019 dance troupe — and there’s plenty of opportunity for that in this musical. Compton LoPresti and Stewart lead the show’s ensemble in numerous production numbers, including impressive tap and soft-shoe routines.
While there’s enough to entertain the kids during “Mary Poppins,” playwright Julian Fellowes didn’t bother to think much about their parents when he was scripting this show. There’s a couple of inside jokes that will produce mature chuckles; other than that, adults are seemingly just along for the ride.
Additional performances of “Mary Poppins” are slated at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in downtown Logan through Aug. 3. For ticket information, visit utahfestival.org.