A few days ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Mary Poppins: The Musical for the very first time. A local professional theatre group put on the production, so it wasn’t exactly like the version originated on Broadway. This didn’t make it any less wonderful, however.
I loved loved loved the expanded story–yes, it had similar songs and themes from Disney’s movie version, but it also had new songs and characters to create a story unique to its art form. As you watch, you realize flying nannies are completely feasible, chimney sweeps can be guardian angels, difficult tasks and situations can be turned around with a dash of sugary optimism and resilience, and each phase in life is a “step in time” that you are completely capable of handling.
The woman who played Mary Poppins portrayed the part “practically perfect[ly]”–her lilting voice suited her role as the Banks’ magical saving grace. I loved her mannerisms: feet turned out in first position, head always held high, every muscle in her body held “just so.” The entire cast was extremely talented, in fact. Bert could tap dance up a storm, and the musical number “Step in Time” just made my desire to learn tap that much more prominent.
My favorite addition to the classic tale was the song “Anything Can Happen.” Mary Poppins and the children try to convince Mrs. Banks that “anything can happen if you let it,” and “if you reach for the stars all you get are the stars” but “if you reach for the heavens you get the stars thrown in.”
Of course I love this song. It’s upbeat. Inspirational. Positively optimistic.
I also love this little lyric: “No one does it for you…no one but yourself.” I love how this musical emphasizes competence–we all have the ability to be competent in whatever area in life where we are struggling. It just takes realizing that anything can truly happen if we let it. You are in charge of what you do.
All the classic songs are also present in this uplifting musical. What made me love the experience, however, was the deeper meaning behind these quintessential Disney numbers. “Step in Time” took on a whole new meaning. The song is affirmation that the chimney sweeps–guardian angels of some sort–are always there when you need them. Each stage in life–childhood, parenthood, etc–is a “step in time” (clever), and whenever you need a little help to get through the tough times, it’s ok to ask for it. Also, Mrs. Banks was not the empty-headed suffragette as the film portrayed; she was a well-meaning mother, wife, and ex-actress trying to figure out how to make things right. By the end of the musical, I rooted for her–she wasn’t just an afterthought.
If you haven’t experienced the stage musical, definitely seek to do so. It gave me an expanded appreciation for the flying nanny. In reality, we can all be our own Mary Poppins, and this musical helped me realize that.
And, because I can’t end a blog post about Mary Poppins without saying it: