By a show of hands, how many of you have seen Mary Poppins Returns? One thing I love about the way they do these huge releases is that you get the music first. In theatre, the show has to open(more often than not) prior to you getting a cast album. It relies heavily on how much money is made, the demand and butts in seats. There are so many shows in the past 10 years that have been limited engagements and have not been given a cast album. Trust me it’s a travesty. However, no part of this is the point of this article.
As someone whose first movies were The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins (based on the books written by P.L. Travers), I could quote them both and am very well versed in the choreography, lyrics and nuances of the music. Needless to say Julie Andrews is my girl. When they announced that there would be a remake, even the mostly optimistic Roy George, was a bit skeptical. Was this a remake? A reboot? A sequel? A Prequel? What exactly was this?
This announcement came on the heels of multiple reboots we were getting on network television as well as Netflix. Some are great and doing well (Will & Grace) (One Day At A Time) and others were short lived and have since been cancelled (Rosanne), (Murphy Brown). All the time, my best friend shares with me her true disdain for sequels, so when this movie was announced, I must admit I was completely excited yet overwhelmed. The teasers kept coming out but no singing was involved. The previews looked awesome and were pretty incredible to see.
Although I am not a huge fan of looking up footage before the movie; I had wild anticipation for the soundtrack. Like the Into The Woods feature film, the teasers and trailers revealed no musical numbers. That made me a bit nervous as the original Mary Poppins was centered around the music, score, and of course the incomparable Julie Andrews’ vocals. Rob Marshall, who also directed the movie, was meticulously strategic in casting as well as allowing us as fans to reel about the movie, cast, and the nostalgia.
The time finally came and the soundtrack was released. Thank you Apple Music for also featuring the album in so many different languages. Hearing Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda sing for the first time was magical. The orchestrations and new music were brought to us by the incredible team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. You may recognize those composers from Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can, to name a few. When you think of a sequel— especially a musical sequel, I don't know about you, but I get nervous. The score to the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins was penned by The Sherman Brothers (Bob and Richard). Richard Sherman ended up being the music supervisor and music advisor on Mary Poppins Returns.
The original film won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Grammy which also featured the music in 1965. As a musician myself, that was where I experienced the greatest anticipation. "How do you keep the essence of an original while putting your own spin, twist, and turn on a classic imbedded into peoples heads for 54 years?” The music was exquisite. The new composers maintained the same sound, feel and style of the original musical. In fact, if you actively listen through the soundtrack, you will hear tasteful nods to old favorites like "Feed The Birds", “Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Supercalifiragilisticexpialidocious," and "Step In Time." With the beauty of a newly infused score, we also got a bit of Lin-Manuel Miranda dancing, singing and of course flexing his specialty in the song "A Cover Is Not the Book". Yes, you guessed it, he RAPPED!!! I would have loved to hear him rap a bit more in that score, but in an effort of keeping true to the original, I'm sure they chose to keep that to a minimum.
Anyway, all of this to say, please go see the movie! Now the movie, I'm sure, will be scheduled to come out onto digital, DVD, Blu-Ray, and 4K. It truly is an incredible film that is a delight across generations. If you loved the original, PLEASE don't go into this movie wishing and hoping for the original. This is not a remake of Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews. This is a new story—a new concept. Yes, there are new characters but you will see some familiar faces sprinkled in there.
Mary Poppins Returns is a Disney movie directed by Rob Marshall, with the score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The film stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack. This film can be enjoyed by the whole family and brings you back to your own childhood, when you watched for the first time. So plan a night out, or a night in with your family and enjoy.......
Mary Poppins Returns!