And yet the touring production, which at two hours and 45 minutes demands a lot from its younger audience members, has the same ability to thrill as any animated blockbuster. Adult influences abound: a park fantasy scene with a neon-green dog, Technicolor costumes, and statues that come alive borrow generously from Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The set for Mr. Banks’ bank stretches diagonally into the heavens, like a giant Escher drawing. And as for Von Hussler, a shadowy figure who declares to Mr. Banks that he can make money from money itself, it seems hard to believe that the show premiered before the world had ever heard of Bernie Madoff.
But the Disney magic prevails, particularly in the second half when a visually stunning “Step in Time” rivals the digital artistry of the movie. Bert (played with cocky bravado by the role’s originator, Gavin
Black Lee) even climbs up the proscenium and tap dances, upside down, along the ceiling. Plus, there are flashy dance numbers galore and more than enough tricks to satisfy Disney nostalgists—a recent audience audibly cooed in wonder when Mary Poppins pulled a six-foot lamp out of her carpet bag. And they were mostly adults.
At the Kennedy Center until August 22. For tickets ($35 to $135) click here.
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