The touching tale of an elegant, if uptight, nanny with magical abilities and her influence upon a duo of rambunctious London schoolchildren has become one of the most beloved stories in popular culture around the world since the debut of MARY POPPINS by P.L Travers in 1934. With an eventual eight books in the series, it was not unlike the modern HARRY POTTER series in attracting a wide swath of audiences both young and old with its whimsical and often fantastical tales of learning, growing and more than a little bit of fun. This weekend, an entirely new generation will be introduced to the copious charms of the central character and all the magic she summons with Disney's eagerly awaited new tent-pole Christmas release, MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
Although the British book series was a massive success and remains a hallowed favorite, it actually took nearly 30 years for the flying nanny to reach the silver screen. As vividly illustrated in the recent Disney biopic SAVING MR. BANKS, Walt Disney had a whale of a time coercing the persnickety Travers into allowing a big screen adaptation of her internationally adored books to become a reality. Yet, in the end, a deal was struck and Hollywood history was made with the release of MARY POPPINS in 1964, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Earning 13 Academy Award nominations - a record for that time - the film went on to become a modern day classic, overflowing with charm, ingenuity, warmth and visual flair.
MARY POPPINS has more recently made its way to the stage, with legendary producer Cameron Mackintosh partnering with Disney to present the mainstage musical adaptation in 2004 in a new iteration of the property employing elements from both the film and the books. Furthermore, a 2019 West End revival has recently been announced, beginning performances in the Fall of next year.
And, now, an entirely new story is set to be told with MARY POPPINS RETURNS arriving in cinemas this weekend. The talented creatives involved include master movie musical director Rob Marshall and Tony Award-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, not to mention an all-star cast including Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury. Another trip to 17 Cherry Tree Lane is certainly a cause for celebration and holiday cheers, with a corps more than merely worthy of another round of "Chim Chim Cher-ee".