you definitely should get tickets - if there is any way to still get some on that short notice (in the worst case you will have to pay a hefty premium). Usually the theater sells out.
The show is very "old-style", meaning it is neither as artisty as Lion King nor as "theme park like" as Beauty and the Beast. Instead it relies on gold old fashioned theatrical staging. BUT that works fabulous and the magical tricks of Mary are even more impressive thanks to it.
From a musical point of view the show has the big advantage that they did not ask the Sherman's to extend the score but a new team. Advantage as that has added some theatrical element to the material that was absent in the Sherman's try with Chitty prior.
For me personally the best Disney stage musical so far.
Just note: it is closer to the original books than the movie. Some signature scenes are missing or totally different, e.g. no ride through the animateed landscape on merry-go-round horses but instead a walk through a regular park in which stone statues become alive. Also some really dark scenes like a mock trial of the childrens' puppets in which they accuse the children of harming them are new in the show. But for me personally they fit into the story perfect and add some depth and help round out the overall picture.
I also love that different from in the movie mary actualy speaks supercalifragilisticexpialidous backwards - heck, the whole song is incredible on the stage!
I finally got the soundtrack and just can't get into it. Of course it's because I love the original and haven't seen the show. I know that there's every chance I'd love it if I saw it, but just based on the CD, I'm not thrilled. I can't stand that they basically belt every song, including "Feed the Birds" and overact everything. I know that theater is a less "subtle" venue than film, and that this is quite the norm, but it's hard to convince myself that the performances and singing is just as valid as the film version, when they are hitting every punchline so hard, and overenunciating so much. Like I said, this is probably just part of the territory, but I think the CD functions better as a souvenir of the show than it does as "music on it's own".
On another note, I kinda had the same feelings about Beauty and the Beast (the film is one of my favorites). Though I liked how much they tried to follow that film, while still exploiting what theater could do with it. Can you define what you mean by "theme park like" when you were talking about Beauty and the Beast? JUst curious.
As for Lion King, I am soooooooooo over the "isn't African Art cool?" thing that Disney has embraced so overwhelmingly. It was nice and different when the film was out, but by the time I saw the Musical in LA, I had already lived through the DL Parade, DAK and the Lodge, plus all of the promo stuff for the Musical. During the show, it's kinda like they expect you to be surprised by all of the leopard and zebra print, and the giant whicker animals, when in reality it was all something they had done before. Plus I think using Elton John's stuff in an animated film is what killed the DIsney soundtracks....
X-S Tech I think you have a valid point regarding "Feed the Birds" - to me personally that as the one big disappointment in the show. In the movie it is just so touching, so basic and calm, so magical that it would have been hard to recreate something similar on stage. But what they did in the end just doesn't work for me at all. I think they could have done better in that point. I have to point out though, that other guests (who were with me) actually enjoyed that song pretty much in its staging. Maybe as Disney fans we also connect to much to it due to Walt's love for it and the numerous very, very laid back recordings made of it, that go much further than even the OST version.
Rearding your question what I referred to when I said that Beauty and the Beast as stage musical was a bit "theme park like" - I did not want to devalue the show and I actually enjoyed it very much. The creative team and the casts which I have seen over the time always worked hard and presented great results. But for me the show at times was just too slick. Theme park productions often tend to try to overdue a bit in areas like sets and costuming as far as Disney goes. It just tries to be as perfect a resembling of a movie set as possible. And I think Beauty and the Beast does the same. The sets are seamless, have incredible depth and detail and go to length incredible. While I applaud that to some extent it also takes something away that I always connected with stage productions, whether plays, musicals, opera, ... The magic of imagination. Something that both The Lion King and Mary Poppins have plenty of. Even when Mary Poppins uses an impressive huge set with incredible detail for the multi-level house interior, it is still clearly visible as a set. At points segments of the house move onto stage in plain sight from different directions. At other times clearly theatrical means are used to create a set like backdrop paintings standing in for what could be three dimensional set pieces. While in the first moment looking maybe cheaper this also to me breathes some kind of "stage magic" - something that Beauty and the Beast overcoated with its near perfect sets. As much as I enjoy these "near perfect" productions, I also love to be enthralled by the old style theatrical magic, that just sprinkles some extra Disney magic into the show occassionally. That is by the way also why I think the flying effect for Mary works so perfectly. When she first flies it is just a standard on stage flying trick as you have seen it numerous times ... but then Disney comes in. And thanks to being more old style / laid back for the rest of the show that one moment is so way more impressive than say the transformation of the Beast, since in Beauty and the Beast they already have tried to wow you "too often".
In a theme park show which runs a 20 or 25 minute block only you can wow your audience every two minutes with a new effect (a new set piece, a magic floating, a new costume, fireworks, ...) and each effect has tremendous success since you still only get to see like 10 or 12 effects. With Beauty and the Beast I at some point had the impression they went for something similar, something new spectacular every few minutes. It does work as far as it creates a great overall show toroughly enjoyable, even loveable. But effect number 120 just doesn't get you as thrilled anymore as effect number 2 since you have seen so many (even if different) ones. Mary on the other hand with its selected few effects wows you even more with the effects since they stand really out of the "ordinary".
Beauty and the Beast will always be near and dear to my heart. I love the movie, and the only point for me to see the musical was to enjoy what I enjoyed about the movie- the music, the story, the atmosphere.
I went to go see Lion King because someone gave me tickets. I enjoyed the movie enough, more for it's animation than anything. The music was so so, and generally left me feeling removed from the story. The story itself, was strong enough, but a disgraced lion cub trying to regain his throne wasn't a terribly engaging story for me. Just personal taste I guess. Plus all of the pop culture references in a film that bragged it's "all animal" natural setting, really bugged me. So anyway, when teh show came along, and it was rumored to be so cutting edge- big red flags went up. The people who said cutting edge were most likely those who thought the movie was so great too, while I found the movie decent at best.
I'm still not sure what point I'm trying to make. I'm all for experimentation, reinterpretation, and all that- that's what art is all about. I don't like Thomas Schumacher (head of Disney Theatrical) based on his time with Disney Animation. So I suspect anything he's involved in. It sounds like Mrs Travers' estate is happy with the show, and being her creation, that's a good thing.
Gee I've rambled a while....I'll come back to this when I have more to say
The Lion King as animated feature will be one of the beloved classics of Disney for all time - but believe me you are not alone with your personal opinion. Interestingly I loved the stage show way more than the movie.
But the reason I actually wanted to post this reply was your comment about the estate of Mrs. Travers. I think one always needs to keep in mind that the Mary Poppins generations have been grown up with is Walt Disney's Mary Poppins which is in character very, very different from the Mary Poppins as found in the stories of Mrs. Travers. The Mary Poppins of the stage musical is much closer in character to the original one from the books.
I saw last Thursday nite's performance-I found it to be very uneven, although I enjoyed it all the same. I was up in the nose-bleed seats due to budgetary constraints and for the most part the view was pretty good. Especially for the ending!!!!
The new songs are very forgettable and I agree with the comments on Jolly Holliday-the sets are so bland in that scene and the statues are not a good substitute for the animals. I missed the penguins-although not to sure how that would have worked on the stage. Agree with Bill that they needed to show a transition from the real to the fantasy of Mary's creation. Mary did stand out in that number with her bright pink dress and that was nice. I also agree with the comments on Mr. Banks-I'm not sure all the blame should be on the actor portraying him. I feel his character is undeveloped and you cannot identify with him very well, and therefore his supposed development and growth over the play has no meaning. Also feel that the Sherman Song was a much better and warmer song than the "precision and order song". Did enjoy the Brimstone and Treacle scene with Mrs. Andrews. The character of Mary Poppins was well portrayed and that was one of the shows strengths. Kids were too bratty as has been mentioned-it was hard to care for them too much either. Supercalifracilistic-number was well done, I agree with Bill on the Feed the Birds number as well, I think it was poignant, although it could have been kicked up just a notch. A glitch preventing the nursery set from rising on the Feed the birds reprise and therefore could not see the birdlady on her second time out. They had to completely stop the production and "reset" it, when they started back again, they proceeded from the next point, which was somewhat disappointing. I do feel that seeing the show makes me appreciate the cd more and I may grow more of a liking to the new songs in time.
Think the show needs some re-tooling before it heads to Broadway, but doubt that will happen. Mostly need to make more moving/memorable songs. Glad I went, it was my first Disney Theatrical production....would like to see them do Hunchback in the US, I think that would have been a better choice that Tarzan (not too much a fan of the music from that one-sorry, Phil).
You're right on Bill on how Miss Andrew detracts from the attention on Mr. Banks, I hadn't really thought about that fact. I think the reason that I enjoyed her character is that the Banks family seems so bland and undeveloped that this over the top caricature gets your attention and attracts your interest. She serves as the antithesis of Mary Poppins and in introducing her to the mix, George gets pushed aside.
Broadway musicals in my opinion are anything but subtle as of late, so that didn't really bother me. The campy nature of Miss Andrews livens up some of the dullness in other areas, although I can see excising her character in favor of stengthening the focus on the Banks family.
Has anyone heard of any plans on changes when bringing Mary over to the states?