Showing posts with label Mary Poppins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Poppins. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2019

"A Spoonful of Sherman" U.S. Premiere @ 3Below Theaters & Lounge

A great song is always "singable, sellable, and most of all, sincere."

This is the core belief of The Sherman Brothers where we come to love many of their songs including those from Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh, Charlotte's Web, and the infamous, "It's a Small World After All." Nevertheless, "A Spoonful of Sherman" is much more than The Sherman Brothers  - it's about their family.

The San Jose Blog was given an opportunity to talk with Robert J. Sherman, the son of Robert B. Sherman and the nephew of Richard M. ShermanAfter his father passed away in 2012, Robert launched a posthumously biography of his father but thought a book signing wasn't really appropriate. Given this, Robert decided to do a small cabaret show in London with just four cast members and with him as a narrator. With low expectations, Robert did not realize that his show would garner rave reviews including 4 stars from The London Times. Robert worked with a producing partner and reworked the show to what we have today as "A Spoonful of Sherman."

3Below hangs these colorful umbrellas in their lobby to welcome "A Spoonful of Sherman"
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

"A Spoonful of Sherman" is a loving tribute to Robert's family starting from the roots of his grandfather, Al Sherman, to The Sherman Brothers, to his own life as a songwriter and composer today. In addition to 55 songs, the show is narrated by the singers themselves where we follow the family during the Great Depression, the fight in World War II, the successful work under Walt Disney, and their continued legacy to today. The show had its world premiere in the United Kingdom with a tour in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the future, they are hoping to do a production in South Africa and Singapore.

Nevertheless, it was an honor for Robert when Guggenheim Entertainment reached out to have the United States Premiere at 3Below Theaters and Lounge! Like The Sherman Brothers, it was no coincidence that the brothers and producers of 3Below (Scott Guggenheim and Stephen Guggenheim) really wanted "A Spoonful of Sherman" to be at their theater in San Jose. As Robert puts it, the brothers were persistent!

A close up set of "A Spoonful of Sherman" from Row E
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

The set of "A Spoonful of Sherman" from Theater 3 Entrance
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

Well, the persistence paid off when I had the opportunity to see the show on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at their matinee. The last time I got to see a stage production was "Sondheim on Sondheim" and you can read my article on The San Jose Blog here. The production was significantly different from "Sondheim on Sondheim" where "A Spoonful of Sherman" was focused on a gifted, talented, and close-knitted family.

Although I would consider myself a Disney fan, I was more keen to hearing about the Sherman family and listening to other unknown musical pieces. Fans of Mary Poppins would know its songs including the infamous "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Jolly Holliday", "Feed the Birds", "Step in Time", "Chim Chim Cher-ee", and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". With the amazing lighting and set design, the singers were able to narrate the story while bringing all its songs to its fruition. 

Robert J. Sherman talks to the cast and audience after the show of "A Spoonful of Sherman"
Left to Right: Susan Gundunas, F. James Raasch, Barry Koron, Robert J. Sherman, Theresa Swain, Stephen Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

For me, there were some songs that stood out. Although he is the main pianist throughout the show, Barry Koron sung "Crunchy Crackers" humorously as a bird from the musical "Love Birds." In honor of one of Al Sherman's work, Theresa Swain sang "Now's the Time to Fall in Love" taking a positive spin during the Great Depression. If you love Winnie the Pooh, you would enjoy the singing and acting of "The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers" done by Shannon Guggenheim. F. James Raasch was able to make us laugh by monkeying around in "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book." Giving life to "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," Stephen Guggenheim lend his opera voice to the song "Hushabye Mountain" with Susan Gundunas expressing her pining love in in "Lovely Lonely Man."

Although some might consider the song "It's a Small World After All" an annoying song, learning about its history, especially at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, brings us the reality of why The Sherman Brothers wrote it. And if you get to see the show, try to hear that one extra verse added and only been shared on "A Spoonful of Sherman."

Robert J. Sherman with the cast of "A Spoonful of Sherman"
Left to Right: Stephen Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim, Susan Gundunas, Barry Koron, Robert J. Sherman, Theresa Swain, F. James Raasch 
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

Robert J. Sherman with the cast of "A Spoonful of Sherman"
Left to Right: Stephen Guggenheim, Shannon Guggenheim, Susan Gundunas, Barry Koron, Robert J. Sherman, Theresa Swain, F. James Raasch
Photograph taken and with permission by John Huân Vu.

Although I only covered the tip of the iceberg of "A Spoonful of Sherman," only you can experience the entire production in your own ears, eyes, and heart. Catch a performance today until May 5, 2019 on Thursdays to Sundays by purchasing tickets online at the 3Below Theaters and Lounge website at or at their box office at 288 South 2nd Street San Jose, CA, (408) 404-7711. Discount tickets are available for seniors, students, military, and youth. Please note that although it's a family-friendly production, children under the age of 10 may find some parts boring and some parts exciting like "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Written by John Huân Vu.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Don't miss Mary Poppins!


As of this post (Saturday, June 9th.. 10ish-am), there are only four showings left of Mary Poppins at Broadway San Jose! So if you were on the fence about attending, now is the time to make up your mind!

If you are like the majority of us, your memory of Mary Poppins is the magical Disney musical movie staring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Sometimes when you go to see a show and you already have an image of what you expect to see you can sometimes be disappointed if it doesn't live up to those memories.

Let me say, this production was RIGHT THERE with the movie, of course including a few of its own characteristics and moments, but I felt the movie come alive!

So I'm not a professional critic - I'm Jen. I like movies, and musicals, and a play here and there. Let me break this down in a few points:

Set design & technical bits:
WOW. Oh my wow. Right away my jaw kind of dropped at what we were treated with and within a few short minutes you are left thinking, "What are they going to do next?!" I want to list the specifics but I don't want to give them away because they're just such fun, it adds a whole layer to the show. They did a great job adding the "magic" to the show for sure.

Song & Dance numbers:
I'd say 90% of them had me smiling and singing along, tapping my toes along with the cast as they danced. The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious number alone had me in awe of the awesome memory skills the cast possess. It's CRAZY. Let's just say, I can manage a good YMCA, but this is just nuts. ('Nuts' in a totally awesome fantastical way, that is.)

While the whole cast was wonderful, the powers that be certainly picked awesome actors for Mary and Bert. The Mary felt very "Julie Andrews" to me, and that's meant as a compliment to the actor - I wanted my take-away to feel like I just watched the movie LIVE, I didn't want to walk away thinking they changed too much or went off character too much -- and they didn't. The Bert character, had his own approach to the character but totally nailed a lot of the Dick Van Dyke mannerisms from the movie too. 

Overall it was one of those really heart-warming, wholesome, good fun musicals. Right away you're transformed into the Mary Poppins world and from beginning to end there are technical treats, colorful numbers (they treated the 'cartoon' parts perfectly!) and so much more. I love it when the show is over and you hear everyone immediately singing their favorite part or mentioning how amazing another part was… 

Now it's your turn - go see it before it's gone!

Broadway San Jose [Website] [Facebook]
Saturday June 9th: 2pm & 8pm
Sunday June 10th: 1pm & 6:30pm