Discover his inspiration for the children’s story about a cheeky little fellow with big dreams of being in the spotlight.
Since 2004, Cameron Mackintosh’s musical adaptation of Mary Poppins has been wowing audiences around the world, and they keep coming back for more.
The smash-hit musical features the songs by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman from the 1964 film plus additional music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. The book comes from Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey.
Since first opening in Bristol Hippodrome in 2004, Mary Poppins quickly moved to the West End the same year before opening on Broadway in 2006. The production also toured extensively, with a UK tour in 2008, a US tour in 2009 and an Australian tour in 2010. In 2015, the UK was treated to a second tour with Zizi Strallen taking the principal part.
Mary Poppins has also been translated into many languages for productions all over the world.
With the 2019 revival showing now, here’s all you need to know about the musical we can’t get enough of.
What is Mary Poppins about?
Set in Edwardian London, the Banks family are suffering from the sort of problems that only a firm hand, kindness and a little magic can solve. The children are running riot, the parents are at their wits end and the household can’t hold onto a good nanny for very long.
Answering Jane and Michael Banks’ advert for the perfect nanny, Mary Poppins blows into the family home on the eastern wind and nothing is the same again. Accompanied by jack-of-all trades Bert, the new nanny uses all her magic to show the children a whole new way of looking at the world.
From falling into chalk drawings, visiting magical talking shops to buy a conversation and dancing under the stars on London’s rooftops, Jane and Michael never know what’s going to happen next or what they are going to learn on the way.
Mary has enough magic for the whole Banks family including the children’s mother who doesn’t live up to society’s expectations and their emotionally repressed father. By the time Mary Poppins flies out of Cherry Tree Lane when the wind changes, everyone she touches is a little braver and a little happier.
Who stars in Mary Poppins?
Zizzi Strallen reprises the role of Mary Poppins, in which she starred on the 2015 UK tour.
She is joined by Charlie Stemp as Bert, Joseph Milson as Mr Banks and Amy Griffiths as Mrs Banks.
The children have several youngsters taking over their roles. Jane is played by Adelaide Barham, Imogen Bourn. Charlotte Breen, Ellie Kit Jones and Nuala Peberdy while Michael is played by Joseph Duffy, Samuel Newby, Gabriel Payne, Edward Walton and Fred Wilcox.
The Banks household is completed by Claire Machin, playing their housekeeper Mrs Brill, and Jack North playing their footman Robertson Ay.
The cast is also joined by ’60s singing sensation Petula Clark, who makes a very special appearance as The Bird Woman.
What can audiences expect from Mary Poppins?
The musical adaptation is packed with all the adventures any Poppins fan could want and even more besides. The inventively adaptive set opens up the house at Cherry Tree Lane like a pop-up book and floods a gloomy park full of colour at the click of Mary’s fingers.
Alongside the famous Sherman Brothers’ songs – including Chim Chim Cher-ee, The Perfect Nanny, A Spoonful of Sugar and Feed the Birds – George Stiles and Anthony Drewe add new favourites written especially for the stage, such as Practically Perfect, Precision and Order, Playing The Game and Being Mrs Banks.
All the unforgettable moments from the 1964 film are also lovingly recreated for the stage. The joyous Step in Time routine is bigger and louder with a boisterous tap routine, and the whole Jolly Holiday number jumps as if animated.
Mary Poppins also brings moments from the books – which never got a chance to be in the beloved movie – to life. Jane and Michael go on adventures with the Greek statues from the park and Mrs Corry invites them into the shop where Mary Poppins finds the letters to spell Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
What else do I need to know?
Mary Poppins runs for approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes including a 20-minute interval at London’s Prince Edward Theatre.
Running until 20 September 2020 – get your tickets through Ticketmaster.co.uk.