“Winds in the east, mist coming in, Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.” – Bert
It’s no secret that we’ve been in an age of nostalgia for the past few years. Sequels, remakes, and revamps of franchises and TV shows are the big money makers. Disney has been leading the way on the “Nostalgia Crusade” with making live adaptations of beloved animated classics. To Disney’s credit, these have been successful with audience reception, box office numbers, and even with critics. However, Disney is about to release a sequel to the most beloved Disney movie of all time – Mary Poppins.
The 1965 film adaptation of P.L. Traver’s book has been called the crowning achievement of Walt Disney’s 40-year career. Mary Poppins made Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke household names and almost everyone recognizes the word, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”! This movie brought magic to children and meaning to adults. Up to his passing, Walt would call the Sherman brothers into his office to sing, “Feed the Birds”, to him. Mary Poppins can be argued that it is, “Practically perfect in every way!”
Acknowledging the greatness of the original film, it is no wonder why many fans of the movie are fearful about what Mary Poppins Returns might do to this property’s image. However, this isn’t the first time Disney has revisited Mary Poppins. Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the stage productions of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, approached P. L. Travers in 1994 about adapting the film to the stage. She agreed, and in 2006 Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins opened on Broadway. This adaptation was based on the 1965 film and it included new songs, scenes, and characters. Also, in 2013, Disney released Saving Mr. Banks which was about the making of Mary Poppins and the relationship between Walt Disney and P. L. Travers.
Although Disney has revisited this property in the past, it doesn’t mean skeptics will silence their worries about Mary Poppins Returns. It will be challenging to allow this movie to stand alone when its origin was so successful. Emily Blunt has the hardest task any actor has ever undertaken which is to reprise a role that defined Julie Andrews’ career. Even Lin-Manuel Miranda will be compared to Dick Van Dyke even though Miranda is portraying a completely new character. The songs, story and the message will be subject to this same scrutiny. However, despite everything that might be stacked against this movie, it has what no other remake, sequel, or reboot has – Mary Poppins herself!
As crazy as it sounds, there is a magic surrounding this character. For the last 50 years, Mary Poppins has touched generation after generation. Many of you reading might have experienced a personal connection to the movie. I bet we could recount stories of watching the movie with our parents, singing the songs in choirs, meeting the characters at a Disney theme park or just feeling inspired by the message it presents. For me personally, Mary Poppins changed my life!
Growing up, I couldn’t walk because of a disability called Cerebral Palsy. Therefore, instead of running outside and playing like other kids, I would watch Disney movies. One of my favorites was Mary Poppins! Whenever the songs “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” or “Step in Time” came on, I would get on my knees and dance. I also remember during a trip to Disney World, Mary Poppins came over during a parade and helped me stand up so I could dance with her. This made me love dancing and singing, so when I became an independent walker, I got into theatre. When I got into college at Brigham Young University, I had the opportunity of a lifetime when I was cast as The Balloon Man in the stage version of Mary Poppins. The day of the opening night of the show, I met a girl named Carrie, and I invited her to the show. Carrie saw the show, contacted me; we had our first kiss backstage during the show, and seven months to the day we met, we were married. When I was thinking of ways to propose to her, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much Mary Poppins influenced my life. Therefore, I got BYU’s cast of Mary Poppins back together and I did a flash-mob proposal to the song “Anything Can Happen”.
I am only one of the millions of individuals who had their lives impacted by this magical nanny. As we await Mary Poppins Returns, the world holds its breath to see how this new movie will be. The world is different than it was 53 years ago, but if there was ever a time for Mary Poppins to return to the screen, it’s right now. Some may love this movie, and some may not, but I am hopeful the magic of the original film will return and the world will cheer to have Mary Poppins back.