Mary Poppins the Musical~ What You DIDNT See on the Stage!


Development

In 1993, theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh met Pamela Travers and acquired the rights to develop a stage play adaptation of her Mary Poppins books. In 2001, Mackintosh and the head of Disney Theatrical Thomas Schumacher opened talks on a possible collaboration, so that the stage play would be able to use the songs from the Disney film. With both sides committed, a preliminary outline of the show was written in 2002.[2]

Around this time songwriters George Stiles and Anthony Drewe heard about the project, and independently wrote a demo version of a new introductory song for the character of Mary, titled "Practically Perfect". They submitted the song to Mackintosh, and due to his positive response, were officially brought on to the creative team. Julian Fellowes was brought on to write the show’s script because of his "clear understanding of the social niceties of the English class system that prevailed in the Edwardian era".[2]

A workshop of the show was held at the end of 2003 at the rehearsal room at London’s Old Vic Theatre, using the cast of My Fair Lady, which had just closed in the West End[2]. After four weeks of rehearsals at Sadler's Wells, the production moved to Bristol, where an out-of-town tryout opened at the Bristol Hippodrome on September 15, 2004.

Differences From the Film

Differences from the film The stage musical is not a direct adaptation of the Disney film, but features elements of both the film and the original books. The dancing penguins in the "Jolly Holiday" sequence and the tea party on the ceiling at Uncle Albert's from the film have been removed altogether (although a sharp-eyed audience member may catch a quick cameo appearance). In their place are dancing statues and a visit to Mrs Corry's shop, both taken from the books.

The musical places more emphasis on Jane and Michael being naughty and their parents being dysfunctional. Jane and Michael are constantly answering back and fighting, necessitating a sequence where Mary (it is implied) causes the toys in their nursery to come to life and berate them via the song "Temper Temper". George Banks has been expanded from the film: in the musical it is revealed that he had a difficult childhood in which he was ignored by his parents (Jane and Michael's paternal grandparents) and was placed under the care of a fearsome nanny named Ms. Andrew. This nanny, Ms. Andrew, makes an appearance in the musical as the polar opposite of Mary Poppins, advocating "brimstone and treacle" instead of "a spoonful of sugar". Winifred Banks is no longer the suffragette of the film, but a former actress who is struggling to fulfil her husband's expectations of her. The run on the bank caused by Michael is cut, and George Banks is not fired from his job.

A number of musical sequences have been modified from their purpose in the film. These are:

  • "A Spoonful of Sugar" - Originally sung when Mary first arrives at the Banks home; has been moved to a completely new sequence later in the show where the children destroy the Banks kitchen and Mary helps them fix it. It is also referred to in "Brimstone and Treacle Part 2" and featured briefly as a reprise at the finale.
  • "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - Originally sung during the park outing; has been moved to Mrs. Corry's sweet shop outing. It is also sung when George goes to his workplace (during the Anything Can Happen sequence) and during the curtain call. The song itself is also distinctly different, as the word is spelled, both vocally and physically.
  • "Feed the Birds" - Originally sung by Mary before the Banks children visit their father's workplace; has been moved to after the visit and is now sung as a duet between Mary and the Birdwoman.
  • "Let's Go Fly a Kite" - Originally sung as the finale by the Banks family at the end of the film; has been moved to near the beginning of Act 2, where it is sung by Bert and the Banks children.