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Alison Boudreau as Scary Poppins. Photo: Helen Kriemadis.

Theatre Review: Scary Poppins at The Gladstone—until 05.04.19

By Laura Gauthier and Samara Caplan on April 28, 2019




Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

It’s a story we all know: inanimate objects coming to life, chimney sweeps, some misbehaving children, umbrellas and a large gust of wind. But what if we told you there was something especially strange about the new nanny in town?

A twisted take on the familiar tale, Scary Poppins is a musical comedy parody taking the stage at The Gladstone Theatre, with a full cast of somewhat familiar characters. The Banks children, the oblivious parents, other household servants, and of course, everyone’s favourite chimney sweep, Bert. Brought to stage by the creators of the My Fair Zombie, not all is as it seems in this updated version of the classic tale.

L to R: Kiara Côté, Alison Boudreau, Melanie Evans. Photo: Helen Kriemadis.

The tale follows the entrance of Scary Poppins into the lives of the Banks children. The show really highlights how magic is not always fantastical and can very easily be eerie. You will spend most of the show wondering if Scary Poppins is really good or evil, with some creative staging to show her magic tricks bringing her powers to life.

Live musicians offstage did great work with songs and interludes, though set changes likely could have been simplified to help the quicken the pace and keep up the momentum. The storyline is very slow-moving and could use some fine tuning to tighten up. Some dialogue is very witty and will make you chuckle out loud, but then a lot of other lines seem awkward and unnatural and often fall flat.

It is definitely not the same Cherry Tree Lane we all grew up on.

The character of Bert acts as a bit of an omniscient narrator throughout the show—warning the audience of the wickedness that is set to come. Thanks to stellar singing and great accent work by Amy Osborne, Bert is definitely the standout of the show.

If you’ve ever thought there was more to our favourite classic stories then Scary Poppins may have the answers for you—or it may just leave you with more questions. Either way, it is definitely not the same Cherry Tree Lane we all grew up on.

Scary Poppins continues at The Gladstone Theatre (910 Gladstone Ave) until Saturday, May 4th. Shows are Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm. Tickets are $23–39 online and at the box office. The show runs 90 minutes including intermission.