Take the title role, played here by Ashley Brown, who also did it on Broadway. She stretches her lips into a fierce, icy grimace and smiles the same scary Joker smile for two hours and 45 minutes. Where is Mary's winsome air of mystery, her warmhearted love of a good adventure? This Mary is more of a steel-wool super-nanny, imposing her will on unruly charges.

Any hint of storyline has been obliterated by soulless musical numbers, which pile up one after another in a disjointed assortment. One minute Mary and the children are dancing on the rooftops with an army of chimney sweeps, the next they're waltzing with half-naked living statuary in the park. Then it's off to Mrs. Corry's word shop, occupied by what look to be extras from the cast of Wicked. None of it makes a lick of sense.

At least the tour co-stars English actor Gavin Lee, a 2007 Tony nominee as Bert, Mary's artist-chimney sweep pal. But on opening night in Dallas, he was out with laryngitis. Understudy Dominic Roberts went on instead and proved that it is possible to play the role with a worse Cockney accent than Dick Van Dyke's in the 1964 film.

If you’re willing to really, really suspend disbelief, then sure, these guys from Putnam County pass as adolescents.
Ken Birdsell
If you’re willing to really, really suspend disbelief, then sure, these guys from Putnam County pass as adolescents.

Details

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee continues at Theatre Three through October 25. Call 214-871-3300.

Mary Poppins continues at the Music Hall at Fair Park through October 18. Call 214-631-2787.

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This Mary Poppins is simply supercalifragilisticexpial-atrocious.

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