Mary Poppins on stage in London- INFO

Mary Poppins to Open in London Dec. 2004; Creative Team Announced

A stage musical version of Mary Poppins ? the classic 1964 Disney film that made a star out of leading lady Julie Andrews ? is heading to the West End's Prince Edward Theatre.

Thomas Schumacher, producer for Disney Theatrical Productions, and Sir Cameron Mackintosh today announced that they have joined forces to co-produce a stage adaptation of the classic film musical Mary Poppins based on the stories by P. L. (Pamela) Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film. The production will open at the Prince Edward Theatre on December 15, 2004, 40 years after the premiere of the film.

Announcing the team, the two producers said, "Everyone we talked to about working with us feels the same, a sense that these characters and stories are their own personal property. It is this deep-rooted appeal which has enabled us to put together a dream team to write and stage the musical."

The multi award-winning creative team assembled for Mary Poppins is led by stage and film director Sir Richard Eyre. Co-direction and choreography will be supplied by Matthew Bourne, with additional choreography by Stephen Mear. Bob Crowley will design the sets and costumes. Lighting design will be by Howard Harrison, sound by Andrew Bruce, and orchestrations by William David Brohn.

Mary Poppins will include many of the original songs from the film, with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The new stage production has been created, in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh, by Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who has written the book, and the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who have written the new songs and additional music and lyrics.

Mary Poppins played to an estimated 200 million people when it was released as a film, engendering extraordinary affection in its audiences and has remained one of Disney's most enduring and best-loved films.
I imagine we'll consider it when we plan our next trip there for summer 05. I'm curious to know what 'book' the article references Julian Fellowes writing.


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We've got plans to go to Japan in Spring 2005. Trying to figure out how I can fit England into the vacation schedule too now .

Here is an article posted up over at RADP re: MP!

....and this bit from this past Sunday's London Times.

Mary Poppins - brought to the stage at last
An international alliance between two theatrical giants is set to
finally bring Mary Poppins to the stage.
By Matt Wolf

It?s traditional, in the theatre, to think of the great partnerships
being on stage rather than off: Gielgud and Richardson, Finney and
Courtenay, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. But a recent Saturday found me
down in Somerset, in what was once a 13th-century priory, to discuss the
biggest behind-the-scenes theatrical pairing of our time: the first
collaboration between Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the British musicals
impresario, and Thomas Schumacher, the American head of Disney
Theatrical Productions.

What makes this important, you might ask. Because one can, without any
exaggeration, claim that these two men, between them, bestride the
theatrical world. Even Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, a glamorous West End
pairing though the Dames were last year, don?t represent such a potent
combining of forces, as theatregoers will discover when the first fruit
of the Mackintosh-Disney collaboration ripens at the end of next year:
the stage-musical premiere of Mary Poppins.

The story of Poppins?s belated stage birth is the one I have come to
Somerset to hear. And so I find myself in the spacious kitchen of
Stavordale, the seven-bedroom country estate (situated on 34 acres when
Mackintosh bought it just over a decade ago; the property now
encompasses upwards of 1,500 acres) that is the preferred one of the
producer?s multiple homes. With a personal fortune estimated by his own
office to be as much as ?240m, much of it in land, Mackintosh, 57 last
Friday, need never start a new project again. He could live off the
continuing incarnations of the so-called Big Four ? Cats, Les Mis, The
Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon ? as they continue to blaze trails
around the globe. Last year, his company had a ?30m turnover. But never
discount the power of individual passion in the theatre ? the kind that
Mackintosh has, for a quarter of a century, harboured for Mary Poppins.

And in Schumacher ? the 45-year-old American who joined Disney in 1987,
only to move over time from animation in order to devote himself wholly
to the conglomerate?s now crucial theatrical portfolio ? Mackintosh may
just have met his theatrical soul mate. Like Mackintosh before him,
Schumacher is someone used to rolling out musicals around the world:
Beauty and the Beast, Aida and The Lion King, the last of which opens
its 10th production in Sydney tonight. And, as an employee of a company
whose total revenue for the 2002 fiscal year was ?18 billion, Schumacher
is not exactly unaccustomed to thinking big or dealing with charismatic
people who operate on a large scale. The two producers, says Julian
Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his Gosford Park screenplay and is
writing the book for Mary Poppins, represent ?rather an extra- ordinary
alliance; there?s showbiz history here, and, as the Americans say,
they?re on the same page?.

That?s where a shared desire to see a theatre adaptation of Mary Poppins
comes in, and it is what has brought Mackintosh and Schumacher together.
Still, why colla-borate? Simple: Mackintosh has long held the stage
rights to the author Pamela Travers?s Poppins books ? three main texts
and several more collections written at her publisher?s behest. Disney,
of course, owns the hugely popular 1964 film, an epoch-making mixture of
live action and animation that brought Julie Andrews an Oscar as the
magical nanny (and preserved for ever her co-star Dick Van Dyke?s
distinctly dodgy cockney accent). If Mary Poppins were ever, therefore,
to come to the stage, it would have to arrive as some sort of theatrical

Says Mackintosh: ?Travers created the books, and Disney created the film
that turned everyone on to the books, and it is one of the most
wonderful films ever made. In my mind, there is no question that this is
part of the reason Mary Poppins is known by people in a way that I am
not. I hope I will be seen to have been the third person? ? after
Travers and Disney ? ?who has brought something to it.?

Mackintosh first applied for the theatrical rights in 1978: ?Like
basically every producer in the world, I had had the brilliant idea of
putting Mary Poppins on the stage.? But it wasn?t until 1993, when David
Pugh, the London producer of Art, arranged an introduction to Travers,
that things started hotting up, and various names even began to be
floated in gossip columns: Stephen Daldry as director, Emma Thompson or
Fiona Shaw as Mary Poppins. (?I?ve never heard Fiona Shaw?s soprano,?
deadpans Mackintosh.) The year is significant, as it was that same
autumn that Disney launched its theatrical division with Beauty and the
Beast, from which it was clear many more stage properties would flow.

Poppins, unsurprisingly, was in the mix relatively early. Says
Schumacher: ?I have a memo that Michael Eisner (the head of Disney)
wrote in 1995, saying: ?Let?s try to get this Mary Poppins thing tied up
in the next six months.?? What followed, instead, was a complex series
of negotiations. It wasn?t until the end of 2001 that Schumacher took
the initiative and arranged a meeting with Mackintosh. ?I said to
Cameron, ?Look, there?s all this deal stuff that is obviously never
going to work. But what nobody?s talked about is what the show could be.??

Ah, the deal, that most salient of all words, whether you?re talking
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown or some of the partnerships entered, in
different ways, by Disney?s film-animation division ? with Steven
Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, for example, on Who Framed Roger Rabbit,
or Tim Burton on The Nightmare Before Christmas. But the Mary Poppins
deal is different from the Hollywood norm. ?Much of Hollywood is about
the deal,? says Schumacher, ?because so little of it is about the
making, and so there are people who are producers because they can make
a deal, and then they drop by the set twice ? and the deal is not the
making of something. By contrast, this Mary Poppins is about making
something, about coming back to the table again and again.?

For Mackintosh, Schumacher?s wholesale commitment to Disney?s theatre
division was the impetus the British impresario required. ?Everywhere
else in the world, you have to deal with a group of producers. Look at
(the Broadway musical) The Producers ? there are about a dozen of them.?
With Schumacher, Mackintosh finds ?it is like dealing with another me:
the artistic process couldn?t be simpler?. And though the men had met
only once prior to Poppins ? ?Over a jolly lunch,? recalls Schumacher,
in St Tropez in August 1997 ? it is clear that they speak the same
language. Says the designer Bob Crowley, who will work on Poppins,
having won a Tony for the Mackintosh-backed National Theatre?s Carousel
and another one for the Disney-backed Aida on Broadway: ?Once Tom and
Cameron met up, as opposed to the idea of the Cameron-Mackintosh
organisation and the corporation of Disney, and it became personalised
as it has, I knew it would be a great marriage.? For that, Crowley
credits Schumacher, for breaking from what might be seen as the Disney
mould: ?I knew that if this was going to work, it would work because of
Tom. He?s a man of the theatre, not just a man in a suit from Burbank.?

That it seems to be working so far can be judged from the buzz that has
built around Poppins ever since a rehearsed reading of the show on
September 15, upstairs at the Old Vic in front of an audience of about
50, Eisner included. At last, the production?s co-director and
choreographer, Matthew Bourne, and its director, Richard Eyre ? the
latter making his own bid for the kind of international musical
franchise over which his National Theatre successor, Trevor Nunn, has
long presided ? could hear Fellowes?s Travers-steeped book wedded to the
extant Sherman brothers songs (one of which, Chim Chim Cher-ee, won an
Oscar) as well as half-a-dozen new ones from the composer-lyricist team
of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, whose National Theatre entry, Honk!
The Ugly Duckling, won the 2000 Olivier Award for best musical over,
wait for it, The Lion King. (?I guess the judges couldn?t get tickets to
Lion King,? quipped Stiles and Drewe at the time.) At the reading,
Joanna Riding was Poppins, with Drewe himself taking on the Dick Van
Dyke role. Julia McKenzie, in a rare return to singing, played Miss
Andrew, a former governess of the Banks family who features prominently
in the books and not at all in the film, while Alex Jennings (winner of
an Olivier for Mackintosh?s My Fair Lady in the West End) and Claire
Moore played Mr and Mrs Banks. The West End production has yet to be cast.

Rehearsals start next July, followed by an out-of-town tryout ?
Mackintosh?s first ? leading to a December 15 London first night at the
Prince Edward, one of Mackintosh?s seven West End theatres. ?We have to
give the audience a show that delivers what you hope will happen when
you come to see Mary Poppins,? says Schumacher, ?not just ride on the
title.? But will the Disney-Mackintosh names by themselves sell tickets?
?Let?s put it this way,? smiles Mackintosh, ?I don?t think we?ll put
anybody off.?

Mary Poppins opens on December 15, 2004, at the Prince Edward, W1

Matt Wolf is the London theatre critic for Variety


Here is a mention of two of the new song titles:

For the theater production, the Oscar-winning score by American brothers Richard and Robert Sherman will feature a half-dozen or more new songs by the younger English songwriting team of George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics).

That means playgoers can expect "A Spoonful of Sugar" and the Oscar-winning best song "Chim Chim Cher-ee," as well as new numbers, several of which, "Brimstone and Treacle" and "Practically Perfect," already are generating a buzz.

At a recent London read-through of the musical for an invited audience that included Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Drewe played Dick Van Dyke's screen role, Bert; two-time Olivier Award-winner Joanna Riding sang Mary Poppins.


Wow. Thanks for the link, Jeff. That's exciting. Pretty site.

I like the music preview that is playing, especially the part where Mary and Bert spell out the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.