A spoonful of magic: Stanford Light Opera revives ‘Mary Poppins’

Feb. 26, 2024, 9:57 p.m.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

The Stanford Light Opera Company’s production of “Mary Poppins” delighted audiences with a fresh and vibrant take on the beloved classic at Dinkelspiel Auditorium this weekend. 

The Light Opera Company, a student-led theater organization, presented three enchanting performances amid its annual showcase. The show, based on the P. L. Travers’ book series and Disney movie adaptions, tells the story of a whimsical nanny’s transformative impact on the Banks family, through extraordinary adventures and lessons.

Running for three hours, the show is a commitment, but it is one that pays off due to its continuous entertainment value.

Under the adept direction of Liam Fay M.S. ’25, the production struck a balance between honoring the original material and injecting humorous moments that resonated with contemporary audiences. Fay’s directorial note emphasized that theater is meant to be fun, a sentiment that this production embodies from start to finish. 

The musical numbers were the production’s heart and soul. “Step in Time” was an electrifying tap number that showcased the cast’s synchronicity and stamina. Equally exciting was the inventive choreography in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which brought whimsy and playfulness to the stage as dancers spelled out the compound word. 

Despite missing the flying Mary Poppins moment that is a staple of most Mary Poppins’ productions, the show dazzled its audience with several sleight-of-hand tricks that kept the story’s magic alive.

The scene where Mary Poppins pulled out oversized items from her seemingly small carpet bag elicited gasps and applause. The clever staging of a kite flying gracefully across the stage brought a delightful outdoor freedom and joy into the auditorium, while showcasing the creative ingenuity behind the production. 

Sarah Lewis ’24, in the titular role, embodied the magical nanny with grace and charisma — every moment she was on stage was enchanting. Her sweet voice filled the theater, inspiring everyone to tap their feet to popular songs from the musical, like “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

Her counterpart Bert, played by Henry Cargill ’26, also provided a standout performance. Cargill’s authentic Cockney accent and commendable dance prowess added a dynamic layer to the production. Lewis and Cargill’s chemistry and joy onstage was contagious.  

Sanjana Khurana ’26 was also notable in her role as Winifred Banks, bringing depth and warmth to the maternal character. The clarity and emotional range in Khurana’s phenomenal vocal performance also captivated the audience.

Members of the ensemble also deserve high praise for seamless transitions between roles: from spoons to toys to chimney sweeps. This versatile group of performers adeptly navigated the choreography and scene changes, ensuring a smooth and cohesive narrative flow that tied long show together.

The production’s lighthearted yet polished execution, coupled with standout vocal performances, created an engaging experience. The scenic design and lighting, particularly during “Step in Time,” created a visual spectacle that complemented the performances. This production of “Mary Poppins” was not merely a show, but an immersive journey into a world where whimsy and childlike wonder reign supreme.

Charlotte Kearns '27 is an Arts & Life staff writer interested in theater and music performance. In her free time, she enjoys listening to early 2000s music and drinking matcha boba with her roommate.

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