Emily Blunt, as Mary, and dancers in "Mary Poppins Returns." Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures
The world’s most famous nanny makes a comeback to the silver screen Wednesday with a whole host of new (and old) stars to tell her story, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!
Mary Poppins Returns, billed by Disney as an “all-new original musical and sequel,” takes place about 25 years after the original Mary Poppins' storyline wraps up, and tells the tale of a now grown-up Michael Banks and his family. Banks, who “learns that his house will be repossessed in five days unless he can pay back a loan” must “find a missing certificate that shows proof of valuable shares that his father left him years earlier. Just as all seems lost, Michael and his sister (Jane) receive the surprise of a lifetime when Mary Poppins — the beloved nanny from their childhood — arrives to save the day and take the Banks family on a magical, fun-filled adventure.”
Golden Globe® Award-winning actress Emily Blunt takes on the iconic role of Mary, originated in the 1964 film by Julie Andrews. Blunt shines onscreen opposite Tony® winning Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda who plays Jack, “an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.”
Mary Poppins Returns was conceived by its director Academy Award® and Tony® nominee and Emmy® winner Rob Marshall, choreographer John DeLuca, and screenwriter David Magee.
"[We knew going into it], it was a very high bar," Marshall told Dance Network at The Career Transitions For Dancers Masquerade Ball last month, alongside his partner and the film's choreographer, John Deluca. " We really wanted to honor the original film, but also, at the same time, create something completely original on our own. That was really the goal — to do something new, but understand that we were in the lineage of this beautiful iconic film."
Both Marshall and DeLuca are also producers on the film.
Is a live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" in the works? Watch Dance Network's exclusive red-carpet interview with "Mary Poppins Returns" director Rob Marshall and choreographer John DeLuca to find out.
The early release trailer featured sneak-peaks into some of DeLuca's choreography for the film, including an ode to the original movie’s "Step In Time" with an ensemble of dancing chimney sweeps, a practically-perfect 2D throwback animated dance sequence with technicolor-like penguins, and a two minute tap solo featuring the original film’s Bert, Dick Van Dyke.
The "Mary Poppins Returns" official trailer. Video courtesy: Walt Disney Studios
Van Dyke, now 92 years old, makes a cameo in the film playing Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank. In the original film, in addition to playing Bert, Van Dyke also played the role of Mr. Dawes, Sr.
“There was this really beautiful moment where I was talking to [Van Dyke], and he just took my hand, and he [sang], ‘it’s a jolly holiday with Mary,’” Blunt fondly remembered in an interview with ABC. “And, I was just like, ‘you’re gonna make me cry! You can’t do that to me.’”
Broadway’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony® Award-winning musical duo behind hits like Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and NBC’s Smash, lent their tuneful stylings to the film. With a score that both pays homage to the original Sherman Brother’s melodies and still energizes the contemporary ear, finding the balance was an easy challenge for the pair to accept.
“Our love for the original movie overrode our fears,” Marc Shaiman told Variety. “We re-embraced the thing we loved as children… This is our love letter to the original… I learned everything about songwriting, arranging, orchestrating and writing for film from the Mary Poppins soundtrack. For the first 18 years of my life, that was my school.”
The film also stars Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer as grown-up versions of Michael and Jane Banks. Julie Walters, known for her work in the Harry Potter film series as Mrs. Molly Weasly, plays the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen, and Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson star as the Banks’ children. Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep plays a peculiar cousin of Mary’s named Topsy, Academy Award® winning actor Colin Firth plays William Weatherall Wilkins of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, and five-time Tony® winner Angela Lansbury portrays the beloved “Balloon Lady” — a well-known character from PL Travers’ Mary Poppins book series.
The film opens nationwide tomorrow, so in the meantime, I guess we’ll just have a spoonful of sugar and hope the time passes quickly. Spit-spot!
Michael Mahany serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. He is also a professional actor, musician, dancer, and writer. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or click here to find out more.