The Grand hitting new holiday heights with Mary Poppins

  • By Whitney South

By Whitney South, Best of London. 11.28.19

A family favourite for over 50 years, the story of a certain stern but caring nanny has touched the hearts of millions.

Now, the Grand Theatre is celebrating the season with a musical that’s practically perfect in every way — once again proving it’s always a jolly holiday with Mary.

Flying into downtown London now until Sunday, Dec. 29, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins has taken over the Spriet Stage for the season, complete with a wealth of magic and imagination.

“One of the best things about this time of year is that we get to spend time with our families,” said Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum. “At the heart of Mary Poppins is a wonderful example of some of the themes of the season — wonder . . . and possibility — all of which make this production a perfect fit for our holiday offering at the Grand.”

Returning to the Forest City to take on the title role is critically acclaimed actor and Londoner, Deborah Hay, who audiences will recognize from her many seasons at both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals, while fellow London native Mike Urhe steps into the shoes of jack-of-all-trades, Bert.

According to the show’s director Megan Watson, the cast is nothing short of a dream team.

“Honestly, I come to work every day and wonder how I got so lucky,” she said with a smile. “Both leads are wonderfully playful, smart and brilliant, and so dedicated to bringing something beautiful to the stage. The whole cast is an absolute joy.”

Based on both the Disney film and stories of author P.L. Travers, the original West End production opened in December 2004 and won two Olivier Awards, while a Broadway version with a near-identical creative team opened in November 2006, receiving seven Tony nominations including Best Musical, before closing after 2,619 performances.

While it may not be considered a traditional holiday offering, the team at the Grand felt the show had a lot to offer, especially when it came to family, music and memories.

“The history of Mary Poppins as a story is so intergenerational, from the novels in the 30s to the film in the 60s, the musical in the early 2000s and the new movie — which is an awesome touchstone,” Watson explained. “So, what we’re really hoping is that families can come together and enjoy it, each from their own perspective of when they fell in love with Mary Poppins for the first time. In some cases, our production might even be the first, which is very exciting. We’re certainly ready for a jolly holiday here at the Grand.”

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins takes over the Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage (471 Richmond St.) now until Sunday, Dec. 29.

In addition, guests are invited to pull up a chair for a casual conversation with artists from the show at The Grand’s Speak Easy series on Wednesdays — December 4, 11, & 18, after the performance in the theatre’s Poster Lounge.

Or, join James Reaney and a guest speaker as they delve more deeply into the production with a pre-show talk on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 12 p.m.

Tickets are available at, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the box office.

In celebration of the season, the Grand is once again delighted to be partnering with the London Food Bank and the Business Cares Food Drive with its SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALI-donate program, with Mary Poppins and the cast personally collecting donations at the end of each performance.


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