The stage of the Canberra Theatre will be transformed in a magical evocation of Edwardian London when Mary Poppins flies in on Thursday.
The light-hearted nanny, played by Alinta Chidzey, will transform the lives of the Banks family with a spoonful of sugar, a hint of acerbity, a touch of magic and plenty of song and dance.
The musical is based on P. L. Travers' books and the 1964 Walt Disney movie, with songs from its score - including Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - as well as new numbers.
Stephen Colyer, directing the show for Free-Rain Theatre Company - in its Canberra premiere - said one of the challenges of the production was finding a new angle for it.
"The original production looked like it was taking place in a doll's house. Our production is set within an Edwardian-style storybook."
He said the core of the show remained the same, with Mary Poppins acting as the agent to improve the situation of the Banks family and remind them what's really important in life.
"The material is faultless, the songs you can hear over and over again ... and it's so beautifully crafted. The piece has a really warm heart to it."
The former dancer said this was his first time directing a show in the national capital and he was impressed by the calibre of local talent both on and off the stage. Apart from the director, the two adult leads and the set designer and builder, the show was a Canberra production.
Musical director Ian McLean said his 16-piece orchestra - including musicians from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Military College Band - mirrored the original band. Unusually it has only one stringed instrument, a cello.
There were also three keyboards with more than 600 sounds patched into them, including whistles and toy drums.
McLean said the show's appeal spanned generations.
"My mother is 92 and wants to come to see it, and my granddaughter is seven and she's desperate to come and see it."
Mary Poppins is on at the Canberra Theatre from March 12 to 29. Bookings: canberratheatrecentre.com.au.
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