I attended an afternoon performance of Mary Poppins. This was a destination trip - driving with friends 7 and 1/2 hours specifically to make our first visit to Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Certainly the facility is impressive, but I was left wondering where the $1 million dollars the organization claimed to have spent on the show went. A few observations: The costumes were sensational, bravo to the design and construction teams. The scenic design was inconsistent, as though it had been created by a committee, each location looking as though it had sprung from a different play. There was a stunning drop for the park scenes, but other than that the overall scenic effect was odd. The lighting design did nothing to help either the scenery or the performances. It was adequate, nothing more. Musical direction was excellent - bravo to the orchestra and musical direction team. The performances were uninspired, with the overall effect being that the actors were doing their jobs, nothing more. Predictable staging and choreography certainly didn't help. I was left with the feeling that no one had really thought about what the play was about. There seemed to have been plenty of time spent on things other than the story, so that the experience became one of hurtling through to the next song or dance or magic trick or flying trick without rhyme or reason. I wanted to be wowed and at the end I was a little bored. I would like to believe that this is an exception and that the Festival excels at many other things. I will look forward to coming back and seeing something entirely different and leaving with a higher opinion but for now I'm disappointed.
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