In what seems like years of talking about a sequel to Walt Disney’s classic film, Mary Poppins, the studio has finally sent a press release stating that the production of Mary Poppins Returns has officially begun at Shepperton Studios in England. In hopes of reaching the same popularity of the original 1964 musical, Mary Poppins Returns stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and is both directed and produced by Rob Marshall. All three have ties to Disney. Blunt worked with Marshall on Disney’s movie version of the musical play, Into the Woods, and Hamilton star Miranda worked on Disney’s recent animated film, Moana.
Mary Poppins Returns also stars Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep. Dick Van Dyke, who starred with Julie Andrews in the original film, also has a role in the new film. He will be playing Mr. Dawes Jr., the chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, which is run by Firth’s character, William Weatherall Wilkins. In a way, it is a reprisal of one of the roles Van Dyke played in Mary Poppins. In that film, in addition to playing Bert the chimney sweep, Van Dyke also played the elderly Mr. Dawes. However, this time, the role is more age appropriate for the 91-year-old actor. No word has been given if Andrews will be given a cameo role or not in the new feature.
In the original Mary Poppins movie, based on the books by author P.L. Travers, the nanny was sent to look after Mr. and Mrs. Bank’s children, Jane and Michael. The new story takes place in London during the 1930 depression-era, where Jane (now played by Mortimer) and Michael (Whishaw) are all grown up. Michael has three children of his own (played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and a new actor, Joel Dawson), who live together with their housekeeper, Ellen, (Walters) on Cherry Tree Lane. After enduring a personal loss, the Bank’s family is visited once again by Mary Poppins, who is tasked to find a way to bring joy and happiness bank into the Bank’s lives. This is done with the help from Jack (Miranda) a street lamplighter, and Poppin’s cousin, Topsy (Streep).
To dare revisit the award-winning musical so many years later with a new cast is certainly quite the undertaking, but Disney has a lot of star power going into this project. Mary Poppins Returns is produced by Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee John DeLuca (known for the musical Chicago), and Marc Platt, who is not only an Emmy and Golden Globe winner, but also a Tony and Oscar nominee for La La Land. The screenplay was written by David Magee (Life of Pi), and all of the new music has been written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who both worked on the musical, Hairspray.
— BroadwayWorld (@BroadwayWorld) February 10, 2017
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In addition, Mary Poppins Returns has also secured the talent of Dion Beebe to serve as director of photography, production designer John Myhre, costume designer Sandy Powell, hair and makeup designer Peter Swords King, set decorator Gordon Sim, sound mixer Simon Hayes, editor Wyatt Smith. Marshall and DuLuca will also both serve as choreographers for the movie, alongside Joey Pizzi serving as co-choreographer.
P.L. Traver’s first book, Mary Poppins, was published in 1934 and was a favorite of Walt Disney’s children. Disney’s movie was directed by Robert Stevenson and became the top-grossing movie of that year. It was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won five. P.L. Travers wrote seven more sequels to the original story, and the last was published in 1988.
[Featured Image by Jordan Strauss/AP Images]