Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mary Poppins

I've had to let this settle in my mind for a few days so my post wont be overly passionate. Sorry though, because I think it's still going to be passionate and very long! I've got to get these feelings off my chest! :) We went to see the Broadway musical last Tuesday night and we were THRILLED to go. We were so fortunate too because we got our tickets through the kids' charter school, so theirs were free, and mine and Craig's were only $23 each. It was at the Ahmanson Theater which is such a nice theater.

I have to start by saying that we are HUGE fans of the Disney film. I will admit, I have not read the books by P. L. Travers. I just happen to think that she wrote some wonderful and inspiring stories and that Walt and the Sherman brothers created a masterpiece with them. I think the songs are phenomenal, pretty much every single one. The Life I Lead, The Perfect Nanny, A Spoonful Of Sugar, Jolly Holiday, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Stay Awake, I Love To Laugh, Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag,) Chim Chim Cher-ee, Step In Time, and of course, Let's Go Fly A Kite are all CLASSICS.

I really don't know if I can express how fantastic the Mary Poppins film is in my opinion! The combination of the music, the performances and the marriage of live action and animation is PERFECT. The performances by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are PERFECT!! David Tomlinson, Glynnis Johnson and the kids, Karen Dotrice and Michael Garber are EXCELLENT!! When I try to think of which part is my favorite, I come up with too many parts!! But one part that really stands out is "It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary" when they jump through Bert's chalk drawing, and are suddenly in an animated countryside. They get to have tea, dance with penguins, and then ride a carousel! I remember seeing this as a child and being blown away!! How I wanted to be in that animation!! Another part that needs no explaining is "Step in time." I LOVE how the chimney sweeps go crazy dancing on the rooftops!! It's WONDERFUL!! Perhaps my very favorite part is the very end when the dad finally gets it and starts to sing "With tuppence for paper and string, you can have your own set of wings . . ." from "Let's go fly a kite." That part kills me!! It gives me goosebumps!! I love that he finally realizes that he needs to love his family and show it by giving his time to them. And he finally takes them to go fly a kite!!! It's so beautiful to see him change. What a perfect ending to a perfect movie!!

So now for my thoughts on the musical.

They changed it way more than I wanted them to! I was very disappointed. And although they are no longer with us, it seems they wanted to please P.L. Travers more than Disney (and the Sherman brothers.) I know she was the author, but they brought in more from her books than I could appreciate. If it was a Disney production, why didn't they stick closer to his adaptation? It lost, among other things, the story line that was better established by Walt Disney.

It started by just moving too fast. I guess they had to move quickly but it felt rushed. Then, when the dad (Mr. Banks) made his entrance, and I was expecting him to start singing "I feel a surge of deep satisfaction . . ." from "The life I lead," he instead sang a new song called "Presicion and order" which just seemed like a cheap imitation. It was truly disappointing to me because I love that song! They also completely cut out the mother being a suffragette and her song, "Sister Surffragette." Thankfully, they kept the kids singing "The perfect nanny" which is an adorable song.

Then, when it was time for Mary Poppins to enter, she just sort of . . . appeared. Not on a wire! It seemed very anti-climactic. It was like, she was suddenly just there rather than making her magical entrance coming from the sky with her umbrella! I just felt like they could have brought her in with a little more pizzazz! It was disappointing.

Then, rather than have her tidying up the nursery and singing "A spoonful of sugar," they had her unpack her bag and do some magic while singing a new song, "Practically perfect." It was okay, but they made her behave more vainly which felt wrong.

Okay, then, during "Jolly Holiday" they had no animals, no penguins, and no carousel! I wasn't really expecting a fox hunt, but I thought Bert could dance with some kids dressed as penguins with a little tea party for sure! And the sets were amazing so a carousel wouldn't be expecting too much. Instead, they had some statues come to life that looked naked and creepy! Believe me. And they also made the children be more bratty . . . they were unimpressed with Mary's magic!

Then there was a boring song that Mrs. Banks sang. Snore. Olivia was loudly complaining of how bored she was!

Next there was a cute added scene in the kitchen where things were going wrong for a tea party Mrs. Bank's was planning. Mary Poppins came in and fixed everything while singing "A spoonful of sugar." It was fine because I really needed to hear that song!

Then Mary Poppins sang "Feed the birds" while Michael fed some birds. It didn't have any of the circumstances that it does in the film.

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" was next while visiting Mrs. Corry's shop, a shop that is in the books, but not the film. It was nice, but couldn't compare to the film again. (By the way, the Sherman brothers completely created that song, having nothing to do with the book!)

Next, there was a scene of the children's toys coming to life and Mary singing a song "Playing the game." The toys came to life as a result of the children treating them badly. It was truly a creepy scene!! I guess, because of this, Mary Poppins leaves the family and this ends the first act.

The second act started with the family missing Mary Poppins. The mother then finds Mr. Banks' old nanny and brings her to nanny the kids. She's a scary witch who treats the children horribly!

Then the biggest crime of the whole musical was committed: Burt sang "Let's go fly a kite" WITHOUT the dad!!! I was SHOCKED! In my opinion, this ruined the whole ending. It was beautiful to see the flying kites, but heart-breaking that it was happening before the dad's transformation and WITHOUT him! What were they thinking?

Thankfully, the next part was Mary Poppins returning and ousting the mean nanny. It was totally new, but it was entertaining.

Then, they did "Step in time" which was the very best part of the whole night. The song was great, the dancing wonderful, and Bert even walked upside-down on the ceiling! This really was a wonderful part and made up for a lot for many of the flaws. I LOVE "Step in time!" I could almost sit through the whole thing again just to see this part. The guy who played Bert was AWESOME (but no comparison to Dick Van Dyke.)

After this, there was a reprise of a bunch of songs and then it ended with a new song called "Anything Can Happen." The scenery was gorgeous with lots of stars in the sky. It was a wonderful scene, but it never quite showed the transformation of the dad like it does in the movie. In the musical, he actually makes a bad investment decision for the bank and they give him time off without pay and in the end they give him his job back (it was a little unclear.)

By the way, they completely cut out the lullaby "Stay awake" and the whole scene with the tea party on the ceiling when they sing "I love to laugh!" I wouldn't have minded this so much if they wouldn't have had the creepy toy scene.

So, this my very long critique of the Mary Poppins musical. I'm sorry to say that I was very disappointed over all. I'm just so glad I could come home and watch the movie again and find that it's still perfect! I also watched all the special features showing how Walt Disney and the Sherman brothers really made it their own work, created a tighter story line and wrote some of the greatest songs ever written! (In spite of P.L. Travers protests!)

Cream of the crop, tip of the top, It's Mary Poppins and there we stop!!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I have to comment on this. So you know where I am coming from, I am so with you on the movie. I think Mary Poppins is the ultimate "family" movie. It is so well done, entertaining for children and adults, and actually has good wholesome family values. (Imagine that in a family movie!) I absolutely LOVE the message. I LOVE the dad's transformation (and the mom's, even though it is more subtle). I also love the exchange between Mary and her umbrella, and even how she hides her emotions from her kids. The entire message being that she wants them to save their loyalties for their parents. These messages are just not found in today's cinema. It truly is "practically perfect in every way."

Now, the play. I appreciate the warning. I can already tell that I won't like it. But, as you stated, the movie is not really like the book. The tone is completely different and Mary Poppins is a different person than Julie Andrews portrays. It sounds like the play tried to bring the two together and probably ended up disappointing fans of both.

Thanks for your throrough review.