Following a hugely enjoyable out of town run in Bristol, Mary Poppins took London by storm in December 2004 when it opened at the Prince Edward Theatre, right in the heart of the West End. One of three major musical releases in the space of two months, it was and still is one of the most popular family choice, selling out months in advance of its opening with rumours of record advance ticket sales and ensuring a financial and artistic success for the joint producers, Cameron Mackintosh and Disney, before the first curtain went up. The normally restrained West End press raved and for the first time the popular press sat up and took notice of its startlingly talented lead actress, Laura Michelle Kelly. Maintaining the euphoria into 2005, Laura was nominated for an Olivier Award in the Best Actress in a Musical category. After a nervous Sunday evening, where it looked like it was all going The Producers way, Laura deservedly triumphed.

Early in April the Mary Poppins soundtrack, Laura's second cast recording, was released, on the First Night label, featuring Laura, Gavin Lee and the rest of the original cast.

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Michael Portillo, The Spectator 10 January 2005

That seemed an interesting choice of name given that the spirit of Julie Andrews hovers in the theatre in the role that she immortalised on celluloid. Laura Michelle Kelly cannot escape the comparison, but need not fear it, either. She makes a fine Poppins. Her accent is perfect and natural, her singing voice sweet and strong, and her vocal range faultless. She is pretty in a way that does not lessen her authority, and the tight-waist costumes of the period suit her figure. Poppins often arrives and departs by air, and Kelly flies with complete composure, umbrella open and held high, carpet bag held a little distance from the body so as to cast the emblematic shadow perfectly in the spotlight.
Mary's last departure takes her soaring out over the stalls and past the dress circle, and produced adulation in her audience. She deserved it.

 

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail 17 December 2004

Laura Michelle Kelly … is an entire category better than the great Julie Andrews. Miss Kelly's voice is as clear and strong and dazzling as a triple gin and soda… the West Ends top belter

Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph 16 December 2004

Laura Michelle Kelly's Poppins has exactly the right combination of tart discipline and sudden glimpses of affection and mischief

Independent 16 December 2004

As for Laura Michelle Kelly in the title role, she's superbly tantalizing and enigmatic… She sings and dances with sublime assurance and is, in the character's own self-assessment, "practically perfect in every way

Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard 16 December 2004

The magic nanny, with a flair for flying by solo umbrella and gorgeously played by Laura Michelle Kelly in a style of elegant, icy hauteur… Miss Kelly floats into the air clutching her umbrella and then drifts into the rafters. Her elevation says it all: a star is born.

Mark Shenton, BBC London 16 December 2004

Laura Michelle Kelly in the title role is the key to unlocking the joys of family life, and also providing the real joy of this production. She's not just playing a "practically perfect" nanny as she announces herself to be, but Kelly – as pretty in voice as she is in manner and movement – is a major new musical star in the theatrical firmament.