Last night, Disney’s D23 simultaneously held events for members in New York and Chicago during a presentation of the Disney Theatrical version of Mary Poppins. For the price of a regular ticket, D23 members were offered preferred seating for the actual performance, offered merchandise discounts, complimentary merchandise (in New York, this was a copy of the DVD) and a backstage experience complete with a meet & greet.
This also happened to be my first time seeing the show. Since it opened, the show has received a lukewarm reception at best and I had heard it all – the house was a star, the show’s plot takes a sharp departure from the film and there are scenes that get downright creepy (although scary is usually the adjective I hear).
Overall, I can’t say I loved the show. When it was hot, it was hot. When it wasn’t, it wasn’t. That said, I never once had to look at my watch – the show maintained a decent pace and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it had the Sherman Brothers songs to constantly look forward to and, of course, Mary Poppins herself. Truth is, this show could have been the worst (and it’s absolutely not), but nobody would have been able to pull it off besides Disney.
I won’t review the show, but I do want to say three things: Jane Carr as Mrs. Brill is Mrs. Brilliant; some of the visuals were amazing, such as the Let’s Go Fly a Kite scene and Bert walking around the stage (quite literally) during the Step in Time performance (the whole performance itself really); and the creepy/scary scene is highly understated – a part of me died during that scene.
But I digress, on to the event itself.
After the show, we were led through a door off to the side which led us right to on stage where D23 took a couple of the obligatory group photos with the members plus Scarlett Strallen (Mary) and Adam Fiorentino (Bert) in costume, followed by a quick meet & greet in which the two primarily signed the showbills.
We were then briefly filled in on the historic New Amsterdam theatre, which the Walt Disney company had faithfully restored (see the show’s official site for the theatre history). The guide then pointed out the house which was positioned in its spot at the back of the stage and started going over some of its features as well as how a few things were done. He wouldn’t reveal how a few tricks were done in the show, most notably the one in which Mary continues to pull things out of her seemingly bottomless carpetbag, but the truth is, it’s one of stage magic’s most basic principles (in fact, Michael Banks even exposed it a bit as he went to move his hands under the table to show there was ‘nothing’ there). I don’t feel like spoiling how it or the dog on the cart is done, but if you have a real basic understanding of illusions, it’s as good as explained.
We were then led towards the exit, where a few other things were pointed out such as a wall where celebrity attendees could leave a message for the cast and some other odds and ends decorating the backstage area including some left overs from the theatre’s previous occupant, the Lion King.
I apologize for the lack of quality with the images, I might as well not post anything at all, but I was so sure that they wouldn’t allow photography that I didn’t bother lugging around my dSLR for the day. Invaluable lesson learned.
In fact, a public plea: If anyone from D23 or Disney Theatrical manages to come across this, I implore you to allow me to come back for the experience (minus the meet & greet if not possible) so I can better the photo library. Otherwise, please try to enjoy:
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