Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Also see Patrick's review of Clean House
Likewise, no child should reach majority without having the opportunity to experience a musical on stage with a large cast wearing colorful costumes and singing and dancing designed to provoke a reaction of joy and wonder. The production of Mary Poppins currently playing at the Codding Theater in Rohnert Park is an opportunity for North Bay parents to kill two birds with one stone. Not a particularly good opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless.
There are several good reasons to purchase tickets to this production. Foremost among these is the character of Mary herself: demanding, charming, mischievous, authoritarian yet suspicious of authority, stern but lovingchildren almost immediately fall in love with her.
If you go, your children will also enjoy the solid performances of Andi Luekens and Nicholas Sevier, who portray Jane and Michael, the two Banks children whom Mary is hired to care for. Both are energetic and charming, and sing delightfully well. As Mary, Heather Buck deserves to star in this show. As Jane and Michael request in the song "The Perfect Nanny," Heather is "very sweet and fairly pretty." A little more than fairly, I'd say. And, though I couldn't tell from my seat, I'm relatively certain she doesn't "smell of barley water." She can also sing and act and spread her charm to the back of the house. Dominic Williams also does a fine job as Bert, the jack-of-all-trades who is Mary's friend and companion through their (and the children's) many adventures.
But that's where the road ends. The setsincluding the projected surfaces that are becoming director Gene Abravaya's signatureare once again clumsily designed. Though they are perfect for showing us Mary's magical powers, they're just so lazily done that they call attention to themselves in all the wrong ways. Why is that roof line cut off? Why do we have identical buildings on two sides of the stage? Why is the alignment off on almost every surface?
Now, add an overly loud, sometimes off-pitch orchestra to bland, uninspired choreography and lackluster direction, and you have a sad combination: mostly good performers in a mostly bad show.
Mary Poppins runs through May 24, 2015, at the Codding Theater in the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Shows are Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $16-$26 and are available by calling the box office at 707-588-3400. Box office hours are 12-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The box office is also open one hour before showtime. Additional information is available at www.spreckelsonline.com.