Mary Poppins the musical is adapted from both the P.L. Travers books and the 1964 Disney film. The musical was produced by Walt Disney Theatrical. If you’re expecting to see a direct adaptation of the movie you’ll be disappointed. The musical doesn’t have dancing penguins and there’s no tea party on the ceiling. Instead, the Banks family and their dysfunctional relationships are fully explored. The good news is the musical uses many of the classic songs from the film including “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.” Oh yes—also included is reason you bought Mary Poppins tickets in the first place, the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
The aforementioned original songs were written by Robert B. Sherman and his brother Richard M. Sherman. Additional music was composed by George Stiles with additional lyrics by Anthony Drewe. That songwriting duo became part of the Mary Poppins creative team after they wrote a song introducing the titular character. Unsolicited, they sent their song to the show’s producer, Cameron Mackintosh. He loved it and invited the duo to come onboard. That song, “Practically Perfect,” is heard early in first act.
Mary Poppins debuted at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End on Dec. 15, 2004. It closed Jan. 12, 2008. During its run, the great Julie Andrews, who played the title character in the Disney film, visited the theatre. After the show, she spoke to the audience about her experiences playing the character.
During its West End run, producers caused a bit of controversy when they banned children under the age of three from the theatre. The move was controversial because Mary Poppins is for kids. Producers enacted the ban because they felt the show was too scary for children of that age.
The musical utilizes a number of amazing stage effects including Mary Poppins pulling large objects out of a small bag, a kitchen being destroyed, and the shrinking of Miss Andrew (the character not the actress). The technical achievements of Mary Poppins are some of the best musical theatre has ever seen. Mary Poppins debuted on Broadway in 2006. The production was nominated for seven Tony Awards (it won one for scenic design). Its run ended in 2013 after 2,619 performances.