Mary Poppins, the stage musical, opened in Toronto earlier this week. With 12 Canadians in the cast, opening night felt a bit like old home week. It’s a wonderful theatrical experience, and I encourage everyone to see it, but there are a few things you should know before you go:
Don’t re-watch the movie before you see the stage version. The movie was based on
the books by PT Travers, who hated it. She felt they took too many liberties and lost the spirit of the books. (I’ve read them and I still like Julie Andrews better.) The stage version goes back and brings in many elements that didn’t get the film treatment.
For example, you won’t find Suffragettes, tea parties on the ceiling or dancing penguins. You will find flying kites, chimney sweeps, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and a lot of wonderful new characters and scenes.
Yes, Mary Poppins really does pull a large hat stand out of her small carpetbag and no, I don’t know how she does it.
There is a sequence where the Banks’ toys come to life that seemed to terrify all the adults in the audience, but not the children.
Child actors can be incredibly off-putting, especially when they bring a Hannah Montana sass-mouth and attitude into a period piece set circa 1910. I asked some acting teachers about this back in July, and here’s what they said.
Yes, you are allowed to sing-along with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. And no, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.
But that’s a good thing.
Mary Poppins is on stage in Toronto ’till January 8th, before heading off to Mexico. It’s also currently playing on Broadway and in London’s West End.