BRNO’S MARY POPPINS: 250!
Peter Stoličný 22. December 2017 zdroj www.musical-opereta.cz
It all started in 2010 when Brno City Theatre showed its premiere of this famous musical. (…) And now, in December 2017, the magical nanny has landed in Lidická Street again. The musical will be performed for the whole of December, and twice on several days, which is especially impressive when you realize that the theatre premiered another title in the middle of the month and is rehearsing the exceptionally demanding Saturday Night Fever right now... On the 19th of December, Mary Poppins celebrated its unbelievable 250th reprise. The first thing that was remarkable about the performance was the cast. It was 80% identical with that of the first ever show. Not only are the actors the same, they also look just as young as they did back then. The leading actress, Alena Antalová, hasn´t aged at all - she is as charming and slim as she was seven years ago. Her acting is also just as gentle and kind, and her dancing at the front of the ensemble was just as energetic. (…) However, the greatest surprise came at the end, during the final applause. It was Petr Gazdík´s excellent idea: almost everyone that’s played the main roles in this production over the past seven years came up onto the stage. For example, there were four players of Mary Poppins and a great many children. Children? Some of the boys that once played Michael are already 6 ft tall with voices that have changed a long time ago. Meanwhile, certain small girls that once played Jane are now adult young ladies. It was beautiful to watch as the whole group of actors and actresses started to dance and sing those contagiously catchy songs. The whole thing was a great musical celebration which was deservedly rewarded with standing ovations. (…)
BRNO SAYS GOOD-BYE TO MARY POPPINS AFTER HER PHENOMENAL RETURN
Vítězslav Sladký 29. December 2016 zdroj www.musical-opereta.cz
(…) Brno City Theatre announced a limited series of thirty performances of Mary Poppins for this December during which - yet again - the house was almost always packed from floor to roof. The show hasn´t aged at all, and still reigns supreme among musicals suitable for children and their parents. You can’t get bored even if you’re seeing the piece for the third time, or the fifth time... The mix of great musical numbers, choreography, tricks and (most of all) top-notch acting performances will probably never begin to pall. On top of all that, there is a new actress in the title role who isn´t just a respectable alternative to the ever-popular Alena Antalová. Ivana Vaňková is excellent in all respects. It’s just a shame that this is a renewed production, as otherwise she would be a hot candidate for a musical Thalia Award. Her Mary is both smart and temperamental while simultaneously glowing with internal balance. You find yourself believing that she really is “a practically ideal nanny” right from her first appearance. She sings excellently, articulates exemplarily. She has every situation under control and lends her character an almost aristocratic grandeur. Of course, the child roles also featured new actors, this being six years after the original premiere. I saw Alena Juráčková and Josef Gazdík in the two main roles (the Banks siblings) and I have to say I was more impressed by them than by those originally cast. They worked together perfectly and sang with a proficiency that child actors can seldom muster. They also provided a few humorous moments, saying “grown-up” lines that often have the audience roaring with laughter. In the two final scenes they dance so well that even London wouldn´t be ashamed of them. One can say that they are complete professionals. (...) Other big roles again feature the pillars of Brno’s musical theatre; this time, I saw charismatic Dušan Vitázek as the chimney sweep, Bert, while Martin Havelka was transformed into the initially grumpy George Banks and Jana Musilová gave a flawless performance as George’s somewhat submissive wife. Zuzana Maurery´s anger in the role of Miss Andrews, the evil nanny, was funny once again. The whole performance radiates incredible energy and it is thus very hard to say which scene is the best, whether it is the arrival itself of magical Mary at the home of the Banks family, Bert´s chimney sweep jokes, the small yet powerful episode with the old woman feeding those birds, or the musical number that has toys coming to life, Temper, Temper, which frightens the children (perhaps it is also a bit educational even today). Or could it be the almost fairy-tale ending when the parents realize that they can be more useful to their children than the best of nannies? I was quite surprised at how Petr Gazdík´s excellent production has matured, and how the impressive performance keeps getting spectators out of their seats while simultaneously caressing the soul. Remarkable!
BRNO CITY THEATRE AT THE END OF 2016
Jaroslav Štěpaník 19. December 2016 zdroj www.brnozurnal.cz
(…) Mary Poppins has everything a musical is supposed to have. Brno City Theatre, after obtaining such a great and timeless piece, has mastered it with bravura and has no need to fear any competition. The story takes place against a background of social and family situations that no longer exist, though they remain topical even today. A special nanny appears seemingly out of nowhere and enters the life and problems of one family. She is different from the other nannies they’ve had, as she knows magic, and so she wins the favour of her wards, as well as the children and adults in the auditorium. Of course, it helps that the excellent music and witty text are catchy and have been translated into Czech very nicely. Today one could say that this is a musical from the “good old golden era”, with its happy end and the encouraging message that “Everything can happen if you let it!” Mary Poppins is a family show, ideal for the run-up to Christmas, and Brno City Theatre have made it into an excellent production. It has joined the ranks of those that will forever hold a special place in the history of the theatre. And special praise is deserved by both child actors! (...)
MARY POPPINS – A FANTASTIC CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Vratislav Mlčoch 12. December 2016 zdroj www.babocka.vram.cz
(…) The story is touching and beautiful at the same time, as is often the case with good fairy-tale stories. There’s the strict father who has no time for his children because of constant work, the chaotic mum who can´t manage either her children or the household, the nannies who constantly coming and going, and two children, an older girl and a small boy, who are as wild and stubborn as kids left in the care of incompetent servants often are. That is, until Mary Poppins falls out of the sky. She’s a nanny with ideal skills who first tames the kids and then gets their father to rethink his priorities and gives their mother more confidence and self respect. Of course, the story can´t get by without an interlude where all seems lost and the stage is controlled by an evil nanny armed with Brimstone and Treacle that even the strict father is afraid of. However, this episode is necessary for the progression towards the happy end. Set this to some nice music, with songs that are sung beautifully even by the child actors, and add some very well managed dance numbers and a colourful stage set, and you have a winner. Brno City Theatre’s actors and directorial team spiced it up still further by adding a lot of small jokes. At the end, the audience kept the cast on stage for ages with a spontaneous standing ovation, and the applause continued long after the curtain had finally closed. On the way out, the foyer was a lot quieter than before the show as many little heads were busy analysing the many beautiful impressions they had from the performance, their mouths closed for a change and their eyes shining. (...)
Mary Poppins – Brno’s musical event
Vladimír Říha 4. April 2011 zdroj Hudební rozhledy
Mary Poppins – Brno’s musical event
Here in Prague we have got used to the fact - perhaps too quickly - that if we want to see a strong theatrical musical experience, we have to head for Brno – at least as far as musicals and contemporary musical theatre are concerned.
Brno City Theatre is an established institution, and the single-minded work of the ensemble under the leadership of tireless Stanislav Moša in combination with the quality musical theatre education at Brno’s arts faculties has long been bearing fruit. Their continuous contact with foreign and Anglo-Saxon regions, which lead the way in developments in the world of musicals, and the guesting of Brno actors in foreign countries, as well as some collaborative projects with American singers, all combines to ensure that they’re not just resting on their laurels in Brno. Let’s also not forget about the support from the city as well as other institutions which enabled the building of a beautiful modern music theatre which is a pleasure to visit; it thus isn’t surprising that they don’t hear phrases such as ‘audience crisis’ there. The end of the year brought the premiere of a work which combined fulfillment of the expectations of the general public with great critical acclaim, something which doesn´t happen very often; we stated this in Brno e.g. in the case of the musical Spring Awakening. That production is Mary Poppins, which had its premiere on 20th November. Such success was reasonably certain for a work which is so well-known from the history of American and British musicals, and which also originally became famous as a children’s book and later as a musical film from Walt Disney Studios, which stunned the world in the 1960s and also picked up a good few Oscars (five, in 1964!). But still – the theatrical musical version is a lot younger; it was created after the death of Pamela Lyndon Travers, the author of the original book, and the world premiere of this musical about an unusual and extravagant nanny from Victorian England didn’t take place until 2004 (London). Two years later it was in New York, and six years later it was obtained by Brno City Theatre as the sixth theatre in the world to show it and the first in Central Europe! This was thanks to its good relationship with the well-known Cameron Mackintosh agency and particularly its great reputation from the staging of previous productions which they own. The original film music by the Sherman brothers was extended for the musical by George Stiles, the libretto was written by Julian Fellowes and new texts, apart from the original ones by the Shermans, were added by Anthony Drewe. The director of the Czech version, Petr Gazdík, together with Moša, was lucky enough to see the London original, and as is often the case with musicals, they had to use certain production elements, this being supervised by the London agency. However, after seeing the Czech version it needs to be said that Brno’s production is a completely original work. This is mainly thanks to the well-known musical actor Petr Gazdík, who tried in what was only his second production to combine fairy-tale motifs with a strong dramatic story (he is also the author of the adaptation), chose excellent child actors, which is also an obstacle in such productions, and so created something more than simply an entertaining show.
The excellent Alena Antalová (acting in alternation with Radka Coufalová and Johana Gazdíková) was the nanny with the umbrella and a magic bottomless bag for the premiere; she reminds one of the charming Julia Andrews in the film. Kristýna Kučerová and Antonín Holoubek stun us in the children’s roles with their natural acting, as do their parents Milan Němec and Jana Musilová. There is magic in the musical - toys as well as statues in the park come alive and, just as in the film, Mary Poppins´ friend, chimney sweep Bert (Dušan Vitázek) “has a ball” up on stage – he dances, walks head down on the ceiling and, together with Mary, shows the children and their boring parents how to involve their feelings, imagination and compassion, and suppress their apathy. And when Mary, whose mission is coming to an end, flies away at the end to meet other similar children, she does so as in the film, through the air, above the spectators and up into the clouds! The theatre stunts in Brno are quite something to behold and certainly don’t look outdated.
The production is a multidimensional musical performance with the involvement of all components, including a quality orchestra which is hidden under the stage most of the time – the music side of the production is by conductor Dan Kalousek. The translation was carried out by Jiří Josek, who mostly kept the well-known original names of the songs from the 1960s when they were recorded by the pop stars of that time in our country. Only in the case of the best known one, from Karel Štědrý and Jan Werich´s repertoire, did he change the absurd word “superantikontramultiextraunikátní” to the new “superkalifradžilistikexpijalidózní”. Even though Brno’s Mary Poppins flies away after every performance, a great title has come here to roost and has unleashed orgies of imagination, wit, empathy with the victory of fantasy, beautiful music and acting which turns this musical into entertainment with a mission and also a candidate for many yearly awards.
Mary Poppins captured the hearts of both the large and the small
Iveta Macková 1. January 2011 zdroj Kult
Mary Poppins captured the hearts of both the large and the small
At the end of November, the Music Theatre of Brno City Theatre and director Petr Gazdík presented the excellent production of English family musical Mary Poppins, which is based on the book of the same name written by Pamela Lyndon Travers. The world premiere of Mary Poppins took place in London in 2004. The theatre version returns to the poetic nature of the books of Australian actor and writer, P.L. Travers, after the successful Oscar-winning Walt Disney film version from 1964. Brno City Theatre has obtained the authorial rights for this production as only the sixth theatre in the world and on top of that, with the option of interpreting it in their own way and not simply copying the foreign production.
Petr Gazdík’s directorial adaptation emphasizes visual and dramatic action, as well as perfect technical and artistic production. This excellently presented action piece, which is tailor-made for Czech spectators who like to see something gentle, pleasant and encouraging, is also “wrapped” up in an excellent narrative musical show with top quality song, dance and acting numbers.
The first premiere presented the perfect performances of zealous actors who immersed themselves in their roles in an admirable way, letting themselves be carried away by the impressive music and beautiful and inspiring songs. As far as the cast is concerned, the most obviously exceptional acting, dancing as well as singing performances were by Dušan Vitázek (Bert), Alena Antalová (Mary) and little Kristýna Kučerová (Jane Banks), who showed an undeniable talent. The performance of the other child actor, Andrej Antonín Holoubek (Michael Banks), deserved admiration mainly for his courage and enthusiasm.
The artistic arrangement of the narrative scenery by Petr Hloušek, based on the original version by Bob Crowley, provides a softer and “more Czech” version of the artistic concept with the use of both real and projected set pieces. The costumes by Andrea Kučerová reinforce the family and fairy-tale atmosphere. The choreography produced by Lucie Holánková offers varied and demanding dance numbers, including ballet and tap dance (Denny Ratajský – tap dance) which, despite their wide-ranging variety, liven up, dynamize and enhance the overall emotional charge of the production.
Dan Kalousek has created an optimum musical production, as far as tone colour, dynamics as well as volume is concerned, of the music by Robert and Richard Sherman (the hits taken from the film) and George Stiles, and he also conducted the sixteen-member orchestra himself. The author of the pleasantly contemporary translation of Julian Fellowes’ libretto and the songs by the Sherman brothers and Anthony Drew is Jiří Josek; he has created texts full of wit and observations, as well as hope.
Mary Poppins offers the strong dramatic story of a dysfunctional family which discovers human feelings, imagination, joy and hope - things which seem to be vanishing these days. Moreover, this takes place in a completely innovative and beautiful narrative form with fairy-tale motifs and tricks, wit, charm and love. Stunning dance scenes, intimate ordinary as well as fairy-tale moments, perfect acting, dancing and obviously also singing scenes – these are the strong points which attracted the attention and excited enthusiasm of not only the big but also the smallest spectators during this first three-hour-long evening premiere.
Anything can happen if you let it
Lenka Šaldová 14. December 2010 zdroj Divadelní noviny
The Banks family lives at No. 17 Cherry Lane. The bank officer George Banks requires good behaviour and order in his house while his down-trodden wife Winifred makes a futile effort to ingratiate herself with him. Their two children, Jane and Michael, are the nightmare of all nannies, and thus none of them stay for long until one arrives who turns the life of the whole family upside down: Mary Poppins. A “nearly perfect” nanny who can fly, make statues in the park come alive and conjures up a magic market stall…and mainly awakens the good in people. Imagination, playfulness, compassion, love…
The stories by Pamela Lyndon Travers became famous when they were made into a Disney film starring Julia Andrews in the main role which in 1964 received thirteen Oscar nominations. The theatrical musical version had its world premiere in London six years ago – and now it is being shown, as a Czech premiere, by Brno City Theatre. Yet another perfect choice after The Witches of Eastwick and Spring Awakening, and another poignant, witty and musical translation by Jiří Josek. It’s also another perfectly crafted production in which dramatic scenes naturally interlink with song and dance numbers in order to emotively narrate the troubles and joys of remarkable people. Hats off for Petr Gazdík who gave pace to this performance (in cooperation with choreographer Lucie Holánková) which was his second directorial experience; he interpreted the individual situations precisely and played them out in a witty way, leading the actors to be individual and not waste a single joke, a single punch line. The performance as a whole is so involving that the spectators will forgive the odd tone which might be out of tune.
Calmness radiates from elegant Mary Poppins, played by Alena Antalová. She controls everybody around her naturally, with the power of her personality – it really makes no sense to oppose her. She makes a nobly inaccessible impression; however, you never have any doubt that people are important to her. Within her she carries the sadness of a lonely angel who can stay only for as long as she is needed and then goes on to the next house. She brings Jane and Michael into the world of imagination with the help of worry-free chimney sweep Bert (Dušan Vitázek), who gives people self-confidence and a good mood with his enthusiasm. Mary and Bert – a strange, gentle relationship exists between these two companions who aren’t meant to stay together. George Banks also gradually melts under their leadership: Martin Havelka changes from a cold commanding ruler into a loving husband and father. Suppressed dreams, feelings and emotions slowly come to the surface; childhood dreams return over marzipan stars which he hid from his evil nanny ages ago (Zuzana Maurery as a perfect terror).
Each character, even the most minor, are deserving of comment: each carries their own story. The actors in the child roles are of course a miracle: Kristýna Kučerová and Andrej Antonín Holoubek. They are in every way superb. They don’t show off at all, yet at the same time they retain their disarming children’s immediacy. They are simply a perfect comic duo – even without trying to be funny. It is enough when Michal sometimes says an adult sentence, with innocent earnestness, or when Jane rebelliously copies the singsong intonation with which the evil nanny utters her sentences. Absolutely professional performances, well executed and played up to the last detail – if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t believe it.
The Brno premiere of Mary Poppins offered an evening full of energy which raised the spectators from their seats. It’s encouraging, and contagious with its optimism. It is beautiful to believe Mary Poppins at least for a while, or at least to hope that anything can happen if you let it.
A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious performance
Naděžda Parmová 1. December 2010 zdroj Boskovické noviny No.12/2010
Mary Poppins rules Brno! Alena Antalová looks upon us from above with a smile, dressed in red and making a very positive impression, particularly on those who have already seen the musical. Every performance is sold out, with spectators even sitting on the steps. Brno theatre fans are discussing Mary everywhere they get together.
Let’s say something about the history of this piece to put you in the picture. The book about this extraordinary nanny appeared for the first time in 1934, written by English writer Pamela Lyndon Travers. Thus we have the environment – London with its chimneys and, of course, chimney sweeps, Victorian houses and parks. English children loved Mary and they insisted on a continuation of the stories, even though the author let Mary Poppins leave the Banks family forever.
The book was made into a film version in 1964 but the author wasn’t happy with it and so objected to a theatre version for a long time, and I mean a long time: it was for nearly 30 years! Brno City Theatre is only the sixth theatre in the world to offer this technically demanding interpretation of the story, which is not so much a fairy-tale as an insight into a socially dysfunctional family. Mary teaches the children as well as the parents to have a different view of the world and shows them how every place around us is full of miracles and unbelievable things. The first miracle is how Mary gets into the family. Was she brought by the wind or did she fly in on her umbrella? And how come everybody knows her when she is out with the children for a walk? The scene with an old lady selling seeds for birds is unbelievably poetic. I think that the production team got lucky with their choice of timing, presenting the play at the optimum moment: the pre-Christmas period. Who is this team made up of, anyway? Most importantly, the director Petr Gazdík, set designer Petr Hloušek and costume designer Andrea Kučerová. The play is very demanding as far as movement, dance and tap dancing are concerned. Ivana Kloubková and Kateřina Čadková did a great job here. Alena Antalová, Radka Coufalová and Johana Gazdíková alternate in the main roles. Also, the children’s roles in the Banks family are very demanding. They are played by as many as four girls and four boys. I saw Kateřina Kolčavová in the role of Jane and Petr Šimáček as Michael and they were both excellent.
If you want to see how to approach problems with children in a different way, dream a bit and remember bygone days, come and see Mary Poppins!
Brno’s version of Mary Poppins: almost perfect
Markéta Stulírová 1. December 2010 zdroj Brněnský deník
You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet and fairly pretty… This is the advert which was meant to be posted by Jane and Michael Banks, who had already chased several harassed nannies away from their house in Cherry Tree Lane. However, their father threw the letter into the fire place and suddenly, Mary Poppins appeared - a magical nanny who decided to change the life of the Banks family.
This scene is at the beginning of the musical Mary Poppins, which was inspired by books written by the writer Pamela Lyndon Travers and a Walt Disney film which obtained five Oscars in 1964. Cameron Macintosh brought the musical to the stage of the Prince Edward Theatre in London for the first time in 2004. Now, Mary Poppins has also been produced by Brno City Theatre and it is the sixth theatre in the world to offer this musical to its spectators.
As well as creating a successful production, all those to whom British producer Macintosh lends the performance rights (Brno City Theatre strived to get this musical for three years) have to satisfy a lot of strict criteria – small alterations to the costumes or the stage are acceptable; interventions into the original are not. This was conclusive also for the actor and boss of the Musical Theatre of Brno City Theatre, Petr Gazdík, for whom Mary Poppins was the second independent directorial outing. Petr Gazdík respected the London and Broadway production: the libretto and music are the same and only the stage, costumes and choreography are slightly different.
Mary, different each timeRadka Coufalová, Alena Antalová and Johana Gazdíková share the main role of a nanny who is supposed to “radiate” her magic power and not play with it. All of the actresses interpret Mary Poppins credibly and in their own way: Radka Coufalová is the kindest and most caring friend and confidante of the children, Alena Antalová excels in the singing numbers and Johana Gazdíková is full of vigour.
Martin Havelka also performs excellently and he gets the maximum from the character of Banks the clerk. The gloomy banker and reserved father of two children is gradually immersed into feelings of joy, confusion and despair in order that he eventually becomes a loving and empathic man. He acts well, as does Jana Musilová in the role of his wife, Winifred. Zuzana Maurery stars as one of the side characters, the old and viciously roaring Miss Andrews, whose monstrosity is given potency by her large black dress. Maurery plays with high tones in an experienced way, and her performance is crowned with the song Brimstone and Treacle in which she has a singing duel with Mary Poppins.
Probably the most demanding role is that of the chimney sweep, Bert, played by Dušan Vitázek or Denny Ratajský. The character requires a combination of acting, singing, tap dance as well as physically demanding numbers. Dušan Vitázek puts the right amount of rascality as well as enthusiasm into Bert’s character. He is also convincing as far as the singing is concerned regardless whether he is walking around the stage, along the walls or on the ceiling. The almost ten-minute-long number Step in Time, in which Vitázek shows himself as an experienced solo player, is the most demanding part of the production as far as choreography is concerned – it combines a variety of dance styles with tap dancing. The Brno City Theatre ensemble practiced that from March last year. The actors from the company prove that they have worked on themselves hard, tap dancing and singing simultaneously. The nanny Mary Poppins leaves her greatest and best magic until the end of the production when she enchants small and adult spectators alike.
Inventive costumes The music in the production is derived from the original songs by the Sherman brothers that accompanied Disney’s film. Newer compositions by George Stiles and Anthony Drew follow the style as well as the humour of the film melodies, which is shown in the introductory part e.g. in the song Practically Perfect. Dan Kalousek was in charge of the musical production in Brno. The Brno City Theatre orchestra plays a succession of over twenty songs of which the most compelling is Chim Chim Cher-ee. This song won one of the Oscars for the film, and it can be heard several times in the production in various versions.
An impressive song is Temper, Temper, in which the children are taught an educational lesson by their angry toys after their nanny has left the room. This melody, which evokes the dark fairy tale pieces of composer Danny Elfman, has an alternate and less scary version, Playing The Game (a Dutch theatre decided to use it, for example), where the nanny stays together with the children. Brno’s Temper, Temper is specific in the inventiveness of the toy costumes. They add height and volume to the figures which came to life – the larger the toy, the more intensive the feeling of fear. The costumes of the other characters in the production are inspired by the tradition of English fashion and mostly copy those used in the British or American productions. Even so, Andrea Kučerová brings new ideas and colourfulness to the story in the fantasy scenes.
Scenographer Petr Hloušek, for whom Mary Poppins is the first full production work, has given the musical a little bit more realism compared with the British production. Hloušek takes the spectators from the cosy interior of the Banks family home to the rooftops of smoky London, into the darkened environment of a bank or into the park and he combines the use of scenery with projections in an interesting way.
The family musical Mary Poppins is the most expensive and most demanding piece in the history of Brno City Theatre, yet it is paradoxically built on the story rather than on magic. It’s a story which shows that determination and belief make things happen the way people want them to. This determination also accompanied the production team, who deserve respect for the fact that they manage to lure the most famous flying nanny in the world to a Czech (Brno!) theatre.
This flying nanny enchants with her singing as well as acrobatics
Luboš Mareček 27. November 2010 zdroj Magazín MF Víkend Dnes
A musical production of Mary Poppins has been created at Brno City Theatre’s Music Theatre which in no way lags behind the western versions.
Brno is only the sixth city in the world to gain the license to perform Mary Poppins from renowned producer Cameron Mackintosh and Walt Disney Studios. This achievement came about due to the sheer quality of the theatre’s range of musical hits such as Oliver!, The Witches of Eastwick and Les Miserables. Supervision from members of Mackintosh’s agency, who saw the rehearsals at Brno City Theatre, also played a role.
The strict attitude is a result of historical circumstances. The nanny Mary Poppins, who preaches the simple motto that ‘anything can happen if you let it’, arrived in the world in 1934 as the title character in a book by the English writer Pamela Lyndon Travers. Its film version from 1964 obtained five Oscars from thirteen nominations, and it also reinforced the phenomenon of a distinctive fairy-tale nanny, even though the author didn’t like the film much and was therefore apparently against her work being adapted for the theatre for a long time. Producer Cameron Mackintosh strived for a theatre version for nearly thirty years!
According to the producer’s rulebook…
The Brno ensemble faced a difficult task because they had a precisely defined, devilishly strict set of production rules to follow. Mary Poppins has to be acted with the same quality as in London, where it had its premiere in 2004, and neither time nor place could be shifted. Every component of the resulting Brno production thus needs to be evaluated exactly from this perspective i.e. how the actors have complied with these orders.
The well-made production by musical actor and director Petr Gazdík was crowned, in advance, by Jiří Josek’s excellent translation. The songs and dialogues are nicely Czech but despite that adults can enjoy the unmistakable flavour of conversation on the British Isles and also that unique British humour. At one point words are being sold at a word shop and it is a shame that no Czech equivalent was found for the famous term supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with which Mary demonstrates the playfulness of letters as well as the pompous waffle those who fancy themselves educated sometimes come out with.
Gazdík’s production was enhanced by Petr Hloušek’s extraordinary stage set. It is admitted in the programme that it is an adaptation of the original design by Bob Crowley. Hloušek has created the reality of polished as well as sooty Victorian London. He uniquely reinforced the fairy-tale features of the original via inventive projections on a transparent curtain. The result is realistically natural, playful in a child-like way and elegantly combines the set elements and film shots. Andrea Kučerová’s costumes are also very good.
Hopefully it won’t be considered malicious of me if I reveal that a lot of magic awaits the spectators: the retrieval of large objects from the nanny’s small bag, Mary Poppins flying though the air above the heads of the spectators, and the chimney-sweep Bert’s walk around literally the whole proscenium arch of the stage. These really exceptional parts of the show are as disarming in Brno as they are in foreign productions, where they are also featured.
Energy radiates from the crowdThe audience will also experience some great crowd scenes; an energy which I haven’t experienced for some time in a musical simply radiates into the auditorium during the scene in the word shop or during the chimney sweeps’ step performance. However, Gazdík’s production isn’t only a conglomeration of good scenes - it has style and gradation too. Fortunately, Brno’s Mary Poppins didn’t drown in a sweet candy fairy-tale tone. The director also shows the problems of a family which may have two naughty children but which also sees deficiencies in the relationships between the family members. Also worth mentioning is the music production by Dan Kalousek, who leads his fourteen musicians in the creation of a flawless, full-bodied sound. The thirty actors on the stage are able to create the illusion of tens of quickly alternating characters. Even an amateur can notice that the timing for costume changing is a matter of seconds here.
Even though this musical offers space for the individual stars, its energetic impression is that of a collective work in which all the above-mentioned aspects combine in one joyful and balanced whole. But let’s get back to the individuals. Alena Antalová in the main role is an experienced musical star, which can be seen in the lightness with which she performs her role. She definitely deserved the umbrella covered in gerberas which she received at the premiere for her flawless acting and singing performance. Dušan Vitázek in the role of Bert only confirmed his position as a musical champ who has no problem with singing and dancing at the same time, even when he’s upside down. Martin Havelka as the grumpy father Banks is precisely typecast, and the children, Kristýna Kučerová as well as Andrej Holoubek, deserve praise for the quantity of text they mastered for the three-hour-long piece.
Mary Poppins has definitely arrived on the domestic scene in excellent theatrical condition. The show will perfectly satisfy the spectators’ musical taste and bears the promise for the local actors that some other great musical piece will appear in Brno at some point.
Evaluation by MF DNES: 80 %
Mary Poppins - a magical, colourful show for the young and old alike
Kateřina Šebelová 25. November 2010 zdroj Velká Epocha
A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical? Yes... It isn’t an easy task to produce a musical which had its premiere on Broadway only six years before. Despite that, the effort was successful and the musical offers a variety of costumes, tricks, a great cast and also excellent acting, singing and dancing performances - and of course a plot, without which the production wouldn’t be possible. Obviously, the famous hits from the Sherman brothers’ workshop, two long years in the making, could not be absent. Also, there is Jiří Josek’s excellent translation, which maintains the original atmosphere of the play and doesn’t grate. The costumes from Andrea Kučerová’s workshop are varied, stylish and inventive.
The mutiny of toys and tap dancing on the roofOne of the most successful scenes is undoubtedly when the chimney-sweeps perform a stunning tap dance number directly on the rooftops of London houses. Also well made are the scenes when the toys mutiny in the Banks siblings’ room and when the statues come to life during the children’s visit to the park with Mary Poppins. The scene with an old nanny – Miss Andrews and her brimstone and treacle liquor, in which the actress performs an exceptional and unrestrained energetic show – will entertain and chill. The varied and colourful Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious scene is a joy to watch. The tricks and magic are an inseparable part of the performance and when Mary Poppins arrives and disappears through the air, the child spectators often hold their breath, just as when Bert is walking along the walls and on the ceiling. The visual component and singing is complemented by an orchestra under the baton of Dan Kalousek.
Both the child and adult performances are extremely convincingThe child actors are a very important element of the whole performance. The selected duo of children, acted by Karolína Burešová and in particular Dominik Brychta here, show mature acting ability practically without hesitation and completely naturally, without stiffness. Radka Coufalová’s Mary Poppins was also flawless; she is playful, witty and charismatic, which is exactly how that untraditional nanny needs to be. The lightness with which she has mastered all the magic and tricks is almost unbelievable. Bert, acted by Denny Ratajský, is unrestrainedly natural; he captures one’s attention with the modesty and charm which he puts into the role. Miss Andrews, acted by Lenka Bartolšicová, offers a really unusual experience. Milan Němec as Mr. Banks manages the transformation of a grumpy strict father into an understanding being; Markéta Sedláčková as Winifred Banks works with him to create an untraditional husband-and-wife part.
Mary Poppins is a fairy-tale musical which the whole family can enjoy, especially children, lovers of fairy-tales and musicals… and also tricks and magic. In these hurried times, Mary Poppins offers relaxation and a calming influence for spectators young and old, and thus it is well worth seeing.
David Kroča 25. November 2010 zdroj Český rozhlas 3 – Vltava
Brno City Theatre has achieved something great in becoming only the sixth theatre in the world to perform the musical Mary Poppins, created according to the books by English writer Pamela Travers and the five-Oscar film by Walt Disney.
If you don’t know the English original or the American film, let me give you a short explanation. Mary Poppins isn’t only a popular chain of baby-sitting agencies - it is mainly the name of the main heroine of this story, which takes place in London at a house belonging to Mr and Mrs Banks at the end of the 19th century. Mary is an original nanny who appears at the wish of two small children whose strict parents have no time for them. Apart from the fact that she can do magic and is the friend of a jolly chimney sweep, Bert, she brings playfulness, freedom and imagination into the house, and in the end she literally changes even the parents themselves.
This concept was chosen by the director of the Brno production, Petr Gazdík; according to his words, it is mainly a story about “social therapy for a dysfunctional family”. Mary Poppins works on the Banks family slowly and in a refined way but also forcefully and purposefully. When she literally flies over the heads of the spectators and bids farewell to the inhabitants of that house in Cherry Lane in the very impressive last scene, she is simultaneously saying good-bye to a new family which has re-discovered the meaning of its existence.
No matter how much Gazdík’s production team declared that their main aim is the story and not an entertaining show, impressive scenes cannot be lacking here, also with regards to the fact that the regulations governing this British production are traditionally very strict. Thus, the main heroes really do fly above the stage as well as the auditorium, they walk on roofs and magic is also done amongst the theatre props. The stage by Petr Hloušek uses the original design of the London production. This is all very impressive and stunning; however, I can see that the main reason for the success of the production also lies in something else, and that is in the full commitment of all the actors on stage. It is surely possible that some of the child actors’ performances may not remain flawless during all the repeats but as far as the singing and dancing aspect is concerned, we experience a brilliant show.
Alena Antalová, Radka Coufalová and Johana Gazdíková alternate in the title role. I saw a performance with Johana Gazdíková, who based the character of the assertive magical nanny on an interesting contrast between firmness in methods of upbringing and friendly kindness. Denny Ratajský plays her friend Bert in alternation with Dušan Vitázek. It is a theatrically rewarding character of a jolly guide who quickly wins over spectators with his likeable manner. Denny Ratajský acts Bert with great enthusiasm; moreover, it is a character filled with dance energy and elegant movement played by an actor who holds prestigious tap dancing awards. Ratajský also participated as the choreographer of the tap variations in this production, and there aren’t only a few of them. Spectators who know the London production will certainly appreciate the choreography of the impressive number Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in which the heroine and choir play with the longest word in the world, bringing it alive with great virtuosity through both movement and song.
Brno’s Mary Poppins has simply fulfilled its mission. It stormed onto the stage with the verve of a world musical in which nothing is left to chance. The box office is sold out and the spectators all get to their feet to clap.
Mary Poppins the Nanny in Brno - for the sixth time in the world
Jiří P. Kříž 23. November 2010 zdroj Právo
Readers have been meeting the magic nanny Mary Poppins, created by Australian writer Pamela Lyndon Travers, since the year 1934. Walt Disney’s film (1964) collected five Oscars from thirteen nominations. It was only a matter of time before Mary – an angel or just a dream? –appeared on the stage. This happened in 2004 in London, and two years later on Broadway. In November 2010, this fairy-tale lady with an old umbrella and bottomless travel bag introduced herself in the Czech Republic.
Brno City Theatre is only the sixth theatre in the world which can perform Mary. It is one of those spellbinding performances with magic on the stage, for example the statues in the park or toys at home coming alive - children are enchanted. As with every musical, Mary Poppins lasts over three hours. However, neither adults nor children will be bored during this long period. Mary was portrayed by Alena Antalová during the premiere (and this will continue in alternation with Radka Coufalová and Johana Gazdíková) as a powerful ‘good witch’ who conciliates the parents with their children and allows human feelings and imagination to win over estrangement, indifference and drill. Non-adults are usually clumsy acting-wise on the stage, but Gazdík has made another miracle come true: in Kristýna Kučerová and Andrej Antonín Holoubek he has discovered and awoken talents which were rewarded with applause, and not only because of their cuteness.
A Czech premiere for a special nanny: Mary Poppins, with Antalová shining in the title role
22. November 2010 zdroj MF Dnes
Distinctive magical nanny Mary Poppins has arrived on the home theatre scene! She was brought to life at Brno City Theatre, with Alena Antalová in the main role. Brno City Theatre is only the sixth theatre in the world to show this musical fairy-tale, inspired by a five-Oscar film. Theatregoers at the Saturday premiere were treated to a brilliant show full of stunning singing and dancing performances.
The magic nanny Mary Poppins has arrived on the Czech theatre scene
Filip Vrána 22. November 2010 zdroj ČTK
The magic nanny Mary Poppins has arrived on the Czech theatre scene
The magic nanny Mary Poppins has arrived on the Czech theatre scene. A re-make of the renowned film which won five Oscars was presented by Brno City Theatre, for which this production became one of the important events of the season. The spectators rewarded the Brno performance with standing ovations which lasted for several minutes. Well-known actress Alena Antalová played the title role in the premiere and she also became the main face of the advertising campaign.
The musical takes place in London at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and its heroine is a highly original nanny. She appears upon the wishes of the Banks children, who don’t get enough attention from their parents. This theme is also topical these days. The father devotes his time to his demanding bank job and it is the mother’s task to make social contacts and do charity work, at least according to the father’s opinion. This well established order is changed by the magical nanny, who has an understanding for children’s games. In the end, she completely overturns the strict family order and also transforms the parents. As the character of Mary Poppins says herself in the play: “Anything can happen if you let it.”
Brno’s production, which is full of technical tricks, also followed this motto. The tricks mainly accompany the magical nanny, Mary Poppins. Antalová flew above the stage with her umbrella several times, and at the end she flew across the whole auditorium. Her acting partner, chimney sweep Bert (acted by Dušan Vitázek at the premiere), also displayed some highly unusual ways of moving around the stage. Apart from the main roles, the spectators applauded particularly the players of the children’s roles- Kristýna Kučerová and Andrej Holoubek.
Brno City Theatre is only the sixth theatre in the world that has managed to obtain the license to perform Mary Poppins. Apart from the inventive show, the play also features well known melodies. The audience applauded almost every song during the premiere. In contrast with the film, the musical has returned closer to the original poetic nature of Travers´ books. However, it also uses some songs from the film, which were written by Richard and Robert Sherman. The co-authors of the musical adaptation are the librettist Julian Fellowes, composer George Stiles and text writer Anthony Drewe. The director of the Brno production is Petr Gazdík. The role of Mary Poppins is acted alternately by Radka Coufalová, Johana Gazdíková and of course the afore-mentioned Alena Antalová.
The wind brought Mary Poppins to Brno
Alena Homolková 20. November 2010 zdroj www.musicalnet.cz
The wind brought Mary Poppins to Brno
On Saturday 20th November the long-awaited premiere of the musical Mary Poppins took place at Brno City Theatre, which has obtained the exclusive right to perform it.
The role of Mary Poppins was played by the fabulous Alena Antalová at the premiere. The role suited her and it could be clearly seen that she was really enjoying it. She sang very well and her acting was truly excellent. She managed both the magic tricks and the technically highly demanding ‘flying’ scenes with ease and bravado. The latter scenes involved flying at a height of several metres over the stage and even over the heads of the spectators, and carrying an umbrella all the while. The role is also demanding in terms of dancing, but Alena Antalová managed the complex choreography wonderfully well, including the tap dance numbers. Her sensitive and affectionate approach to her child acting partners must also be appreciated, and most of all her great authenticity and enthusiasm. Alena Antalová acted from the heart and some scenes were so moving many a spectator had a tear in their eye.
Bert the chimney sweep, played by Dušan Vitázek, acts as an effective foil to Mary Poppins. Just as with Alena Antalová, he also displayed playfulness, affection, friendliness and a sense of humour. He managed both the acting and singing aspects of the role very well. He just can’t leave the Oscar – winning hit Chim Chim Cher-ee alone here; it gets under one’s skin to the extent that one finds oneself humming it all the way home from the theatre. However, Dušan Vitázek primarily gained my admiration for his dancing, and not just for the impressive tap dance numbers. Bert the sweep can sing and dance, and walk on walls or even the ceiling while doing it.
In the child roles we could see Kristýna Kučerová as Jane and Andrej Antonín Holoubek as her brother Michael. Both children acted very naturally and deserve praise most of all for managing the quantity of text involved in the three-hour performance. They also managed to keep up with their adult colleagues in the tricky dance numbers. They were completely alone throughout the whole scene when their toys came to life and they acted very well there too; every word they spoke was believable.
Martin Havelka in the role of George Banks had to transform during the performance from a strict father who believes that children primarily need discipline and order into a loving and understanding Dad who provides mainly love and security for his family. The children gradually discover this side of their father together with Mary Poppins and help him, often in very comic situations, to understand the true core of his being.
Winifred Banks was played by Jana Musilová. Nothing whatsoever was wrong in terms of singing or dancing, but particularly with this character as portrayed in the script one cannot avoid the thought that for a Czech woman Winifred’s function in the family is hard to imagine. She has servants for cleaning, the gardening and cooking, a nanny for bringing up the children, a husband who makes all the money – one has to wonder if she ever has anything to do at all. Luckily, Mr Banks explains her job during the course of events: it is "to be Mrs Banks". Well ladies, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had nothing else to do except represent your husband and welcome visitors with a smile?
We meet a whole series of characters during the show, including the park guard played by Miloslav Čížek, the bird woman played by Jana Gazdíková, animated statues in the park and many others. The whole company deserves a deep and respectful bow, as there are many occasions and opportunities where they may display their singing and dancing including great tap dance numbers choreographed by Lucie Holánková.
One thing about the production which greatly impressed me was the thoroughly well-crafted set by Peter Hloušek. It was constantly changing, and in combination with 3D projections it carried the spectator fluidly into different surroundings, whether out of the house and onto the roof, or e.g. into the park or over to the word shop. Alena Kučerová’s costumes brought the period setting beautifully to life and also gave emphasis to its fairytale nature. The production was directed by Petr Gazdík, holder of the Thálie Award for 2010. We will have to wait and see what prize Mary Poppins may bring him.
Mary Poppins is a musical which the whole family can enjoy. Not only children will like it but also lovers of fairytales, musicals and various tricks and magic. In our overly technological time Mary Poppins brings pleasant entertainment full of smiling processions, kindness, moving moments that tug at the heart strings, a spectacle full of dance numbers and also great fun. It is in short a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical. And what does that word mean, anyway? Come to Brno and find out!