"There's a different point of view awaiting you if you just look up." -Jack from Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins has enchanted children, teenagers, and adults for decades in storybooks, films, and stage productions.

Her magic and charm are exactly what the doctor has ordered for a grim day! 

Without further delay, we will examine the basics of the Mary Poppins story that has kept audiences coming back since the 1930s.

The Origins of the Mary Poppins Story

There are many classic stories that have existed all our lives such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, and Mary Poppins; these stories have been around so long we forget to question where they came from and how they originated.

For instance, Cinderella is based on the French story Cendrillon by Charles Perrault, Star Wars was the brilliant idea of George Lucas, and The Hobbit stemmed from the mind of British academic J.R.R Tolkien.

But what about Mary Poppins? 

Mary Poppins is a wonderful story that comes from the brilliant mind of P.L Travers, an Australian born British writer.

According to many sources, the story of Mary Poppins written by Travers is based on fictionalized events from her life.

Nevertheless, to adapt the various Mary Poppins books into a movie or a stage play/musical, it took much persistence and time. Travers had the permission to sign off on the rights when she believed the story would be depicted on the silver screen just as she imagined. Thankfully, Disney Pictures worked their magic and created the 1964 feature film starring Julie Andrews that is very difficult to forget.

After the rights were acquired for the film in the 1960s, it took many years for the Mary Poppins musical to be seen in a playhouse. However, in 1993 after meeting P.L Travers to discuss the rights of Mary Poppins for a stage play, theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh acquired the green light with a few conditions. Travers wanted Mackintosh to heed to the following rules:

  1. All actors, crew members, and creators had to be English,
  2. There could be no one working on the project who had previously contributed to the Disney film.

Nonetheless, after P.L Travers death in 1996, Cameron Mackintosh and head of Disney Theatrical Productions, Thomas Schumacher, began to discuss the possibilities of a collaboration that would include the songs from the 1964 movie. When both sides became officially committed to the project in 2001, a preliminary outline of the project was finished and furthered examined in 2002.

Later on, distinct artists heard about the project, most notably George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and wrote songs that would impress the men in charge of handing out roles and choosing collaborators. Stiles, Drewe, and genius Julian Fellowes were brought onto the project for their expertise in their respective fields.

After months of writing, designing, and practice, a workshop of Mary Poppins was held in 2003 at the rehearsal room in London's Old Vic Theatre. As is the case with all theatre productions, fine-tuning was completed and try-out performances with a normal audience began in the UK city of Bristol in September 2004.

After the enormous success of the West End production, plans were made for a Broadway production beginning in late 2006.

Also, starring Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music is great family fun!

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Plot Details of the Mary Poppins Film and Musical

A spoonful of sugar
The magic of Mary Poppins relies on hit songs such as "Spoonful of Sugar." (Source: pixabay)

Although the story of Mary Poppins has been read or seen internationally, there may be some individuals who require some essential plot details to better understand the story.

Therefore, without further delay, the following are the most indispensable details of the Mary Poppins film that all parents should know to impress their children and not look like losers:

The Banks' are a middle-class family living in Edwardian era London. George and Winnifred, the parents, are quite occupied with their daily activities so much so that they have neglected the children, Michael and Jane, who have become very naughty. 

After their current nanny storms out of their house upset, they create an advertisement for a new nanny. Within moments the nanny of their dreams arrives, Mary Poppins. Mary knows exactly what the children need and how to treat them. Along with her dearest friend Bert, Mary charms the children into better behaviour along with song and dance. 

Mary Poppins goal is to ensure that the family is reunited and happy again. When she realises that her job is done, she vanishes into the air.

There are many more essential details that are worthy of explanation and can be learnt by reading a more in-depth synopsis of the film and musical.

Most Recognisable Characters of the Story

Mary Poppins
Known at the time for his popular television series, Dick Van Dyke became a star as Bert from Mary Poppins. (Source: pixabay)

As one of the most cherished stories of all time, the characters in the film and/or stage play are beloved and feel like family to many people; this was the case with P.L Travers. The wonderful mind who wrote the Mary Poppins book series, Travers, had such a close and personal connection with the personages in her story that she fought for many years to not sell the rights to magnate Walt Disney.

Thankfully Travers eventually realised that sharing her "family" with the world would result in much joy and the opportunity for the world to know the following characters:

  • Mary Poppins: truly an amazing woman, Mary Poppins is the type of person we all wish we had in our lives. She is firm and strict yet loving and magical. She descends from the clouds to enter the lives of the Banks' children after they sent out an advertisement for a nanny.
  • Bert: he is a jack-of-all-trades and Mary Poppins most dear friend, Bert befriends the children and possesses a major role in the 1964 film and musical. He is accustomed to Mary's magic and is completely phased by it. Bert and Mary do not share any romantic interest but they are quite playful and used to each other's company.
  • George Banks: the patriarch of the Banks family, George works at the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in London. He is very driven, disciplined, and serious. The children are convinced that he does not love them or want to spend with them. He learns what it means to have fun with his children thanks to Mary Poppins.
  • Winnifred Banks: the mother of Jane and Michael and the wife of George, Winnifred is easily distracted by mundane activities. She is an active member of the suffragette movement.
  • Jane Banks: the oldest of the Banks' children, Jane is mischevious and sneaky. She is very pleased yet surprised by the visit of Mary Poppins; not knowing that it will change her life.
  • Michael Banks: the youngest of the Banks' offspring, Michael is very stubborn and suspicious about things and how he conducts himself. Mary Poppins teaches him that there is nothing wrong with having fun while at the same time completing his chores.

Other essential characters in the Mary Poppins stories include Ellen, the maid of the Banks' residence, and Katie Nanna, the resentful nanny who quits the Banks' house upon Mary's arrival. All of the previously mentioned characters, make the Mary Poppins musical shine and have a huge heart.

We also highly recommend watching The Wizard of Oz, Frozen, Matilda, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang during family night.

Praise and Awards for Mary Poppins on Stage and Screen

The Mary Poppins musica
The Mary Poppins musical hit London's West End stage nearly 40 years after the film was released. (Source: Unsplash)

"Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." 

Being the darling of critical acclaim is of no surprise for the Mary Poppins film, musicals, and books. Everywhere around the world, Mary Poppins is recalled with a smile and fond memories of a fantastic childhood.

Consequently, it is important to mention that the Mary Poppins feature film is also a critical darling with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 88 out of 100 on Metacritic stating universal acclaim.

Also, the 1964 film produced by Walt Disney was nominated for 13 Oscars winning five including Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Best Original Song; it is viewed as Walt Disney's most successful live-action picture while he was he still alive, a true magnum opus!

Why was the Mary Poppins film so successful? 

Many critics from all over the world, have praised the 1964 adaption of P.L Travers books for its musical numbers, the performances of Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews, and the set design.

Since the first film was a smashing success, it comes as no surprise that in 2018 a sequel was released titled Mary Poppins Returns starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The 2018 film earned a ton of money at the worldwide box office and received much acclaim and accolades.

In addition, we cannot forget to mention the triumph of various stage plays and musicals adapted from P.L Travers novels and the 1964 film. For instance, the 2004 production of Mary Poppins scripted by Julian Fellowes received much acclaim on the West End where it premiered and later on Broadway in 2006.

The Mary Poppins musical on the West End won two Olivier Awards in 2004 and the Broadway musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards in 2007 including Best Musical.

Nevertheless, even great things must come to an end and that is why the original Broadway production closed on March 2013 after over 2600 performances; however, it has been revived on the West End this past year and there have been many US and UK tours with the original cast.

Mary Poppins continues to be one of the most popular musicals to portray at primary or secondary schools across the UK and other amateur community theatres.

We highly recommended revisiting Mary Poppins' world when feeling down or a little bit blue; she is sure to make your day "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

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