Friday, November 17, 2006

Mary Poppins

Delightful stage adaptation of the 1964 Walt Disney film about P.L. Travers' resourceful English nanny who, borne aloft by her magical umbrella, becomes governess to young Jane and Michael Banks, setting things right in a dysfunctional family with an autocratic father too busy at his London bank job to appreciate his loving wife and kids.

Distinguished director Sir Richard Eyre directs the London hit -- which features the film's beloved Sherman Brothers songs, like "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," with some nice new ones by George Stils and Anthony Drewe -- with an intelligence that makes the experience as pleasurable for adults as for the kids.

Ashley Brown is a winning Poppins, less starchy than her London counterpart, and Gavin Lee fills Dick Van Dyke's shoes with charm and pulls off one of the most dazzling effects ever -- dancing up and around the high proscenium arch -- though Poppins herself flying high above the audience's heads will also generate a goosebump or two. Highly recommendable family fare.

(New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W. 42nd St.; 212-307-4747;

Thursday, November 16, 2006

About Harry Forbes

Harry Forbes has written extensively about theater for Back Stage, Time Out New York, and The Manhattan Spirit, for which he was the theater critic for several years. He has reviewed theater on television for The Christopher Paul Denis Show.

He was the film, TV, and theater critic for the Catholic News Service, with a worldwide circulation of six million, while heading the national Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

He has had an extensive career in broadcasting, with public relations positions at PBS and WNET in New York, as well as the New York flagship stations of CBS and NBC.

He is a member of the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA), and the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).