If you only do one thing with your kids this Easter, take them to see Mary Poppins at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Budget your day trips, save cash on your meals out so that you can buy family tickets.
From the moment we entered 17 Cherry Tree Lane, and the stage set opened up like an enormous pop-up book, the four of us were hooked.
It’s long show – it ended around 10.20pm – but it moves at a crackling pace, and you have to keep your eyes peeled to make sure you don’t miss any of the magic.
A bang and a puff of smoke and all sorts of wonderment happens from a kitchen tidying itself and toys coming to life to Mary Poppins arriving in the Banks household.
The show itself is quite different to the film and perhaps more like PL Travers’ original story.
I have to say I liked it more.
The statues coming to life in the park seemed more probable than penguins, and Mrs Corry in the ‘talking shop’ in the park was a colourful and entertaining way to introduce the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which was an absolute riot.
Miss Andrew, George Banks’ childhood nanny, was a formidable presence with her Brimstone and Treacle song and makes much more sense of Mr Banks’ disposition. My eldest actually whispered in my ear how her arrival was a good thing because it was bringing the family back together.
I have to admit I was unsure of Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins initially. I think this was a deliberate and very clever tactic because I warmed to her at just the same time the children were starting to love her too. She had an ethereal quality that made her magic even more special.
I loved the Cook, played by Wendy Ferguson. She brought such humour and gusto to every household scene.
There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and some teary ones too, especially when the dad, Milo Twomey, realises the importance of spending time with his kids.
The production and choreography, by the legendary Cameron Mackintosh and Matthew Bourne, were out of this world.
The set, and the way it breezed from one scene to the next, was stunning.
And the dance scenes for Step in Time and the finale were exquisite.
My two boys, aged nine and six, were spellbound – literally on the edge of their seats – the whole way through.
We all agreed that Bert, played by Matt Lee, was our favourite character.
There are several new songs in the show, including one called Anything Can Happen which leaves you feeling totally uplifted and wanting to grab every moment you can with your children.
Anything can happen in a production like this. I loved every moment.