Mary Poppins Taken On An Evolution Under Michael Cassel, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh -
Jack Chambers as Bert at Mary Poppins The Musical photo by Darren Boud

Jack Chambers as Bert at Mary Poppins The Musical photo by Darren Boud

Mary Poppins Taken On An Evolution Under Michael Cassel, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh

by Paul Cashmere on February 5, 2023

in News

When you have a classic like ‘Mary Poppins’, the challenge for the producers is how to make to relevant to a new audience while maintaining the charm the older fans will be coming back to see.

Cameron Mackintosh’s first Australian production of ‘Mary Poppins’ was over decade ago in 2011. That production kept to the movie outline with the focus on Mary, Bert, the songs and the children. It brought the animation of the original Disney movie to life on the stage. This production matures brand.

Mary Poppins the Musical photo by Daniel Boud Mary Poppins the Musical photo by Daniel Boud

The producers are smart. Since 2011, a 2023 audiences has been treated to new technology in theatre and what I’d call “The Harry Potter phenomenon”. A lot of the younger audience coming to this show would have been introduced to live theatre through the Harry Potter shows. ‘Mary Poppins’ 2023 has risen to the challenges of new theatre technology and a new audience read the room correctly.

‘Mary Poppins’ 2023 is a darker production than the previous one. It makes an excellent transition for the Potter audience’s experience in live theatre. This show is grown-up Disney. Gone are the dancing penguins, replaced with a dancing statue. It’s a sign that Disney is adapting to the cultural relevance of the 21st century audience as seen on Disney+ with the scheduling of shows like ‘Pam and Tommy’, ‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ and ‘Pistol’. Disney is no longer Nickelodeon.

Mary Poppins The Musical photo by Daniel Boud

While the ‘Mary Poppins’ story remains the same, the focus has changed more towards the Banks family. In this production, the songs support the storyline, instead of the other way around in the previous production and movie.

The Sherman brothers classics were such a large part of Mary Poppins. Everyone knows ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’, ‘Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and Chim Chim Cher-ee’. They are ingrained into us all. They are all here and Poppins ’23 maintains its link with the past but with a relevant currency.

Australian theatre royalty Marina Prior is magnificent with the dual role of the Bird Woman and Miss Andrew. Jack Chambers as Bert and Stefanie Jones as Mary Poppins give the characters a different personality, away from the cartoonish characters of previous productions. Tom Wren as George Banks and Lucy Maunder as Winifred Banks have heightened roles as their characters are more amplified than before.

We are extremely lucky in Melbourne. We have more theatre than any other city in the country. Melbourne attracts the best productions in the world at any given time. When shows like ‘Mary Poppins’ are in Melbourne you know you are experiencing the finest theatre in the world.

Mary Poppins is playing at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre until 30th April, 2023.

Marina Prior in Mary Poppins The Musical photo by Daniel Boud

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