It would appear that today is all about Disney’s contemporary adaptations! As mentioned in this morning’s massive news that the House of Mouse was developing a new Lion King, Disney are also currently working on a new Mary Poppins. Titled Mary Poppins Returns, this won’t be a reimagining though but rather a sequel to the classic 1964 fantasy musical which saw Julie Andrews as the titular magical nanny who, along with Dick van Dyke’s cockney chimney sweep, uses her charms and songs to mend a London family.
This time around Emily Blunt will be taking on the role of Mary Poppins, while Lin-Manuel Miranda will be co-starring. If you’re unfamiliar with Miranda, then you’ve clearly not been on the internet this year. The American actor, composer, rapper and writer has won a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammys, an Emmy, a MacArthur “Genius” Award, and three Tony awards, but his his biggest claim to fame – and the source of many of those accolades – was creating and starring in the 11-time Tony Award-winning Broadway production Hamilton, which became a cultural phenomenon over the last year and a half.
No offense to the incredibly talented Emily Blunt – or to director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) – but it was the addition of Miranda that really got people to sit up and notice this production. And now the playwright has also unveiled the first proper story details about the sequel. Speaking to Variety, Miranda revealed that the story will be set 20 years after the events of the first film in post-Depression London, when the kids that Mary Poppins once took care of is now all grown up.
“It’s straight up a sequel. Michael and Jane Banks have grown up, and they find themselves in their own spot, and Mary Poppins comes back to take care of Michael’s kids.”
Before it was confirmed that this was a sequel and not a remake, many people had assumed that Miranda would in fact be playing Van Dyke’s role. But that’s not actually the case
“I play a lamplighter named Jack who sort of grew up apprenticing to [Dick Van Dyke’s] Bert. So I know if Mary Poppins shows up, it’s gonna get awesome. I perform that function in the movie, of saying: ‘Y’all don’t know about Mary Poppins. When Mary’s around, cool sh– happens.’ “
And while Miranda has not made contact with the legendary Van Dyke, he does hold him in reverence.
“I haven’t met Dick Van Dyke. I’d love to meet him. I cried like everyone else did when he showed up on ‘The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60’ and started stepping in time. Just horizontal tears out of my face.”
And it’s not just for Van Dyke that Miranda has an affinity. He’s been a massive fan of Mary Poppins for most of his life – a tendency that he has seemingly passed down in his family.
“I showed my son the film, and my son is not even 2 years old. When the music started my son went — [Miranda’s face lit up and he let out gasp of wonder] Which I’ve never seen him do. He just sat rapt. For someone who’s 20 months old, that doesn’t happen. I’m really excited I get to be part of that legacy. That movie is everyone’s childhood. Mine too. Although I never got through ‘Tuppence’ [the song ‘Feed the Birds’], because that lady made me so sad that I would burst into tears. It took me a long time to actually see the end of the movie.”
While there’s no official word yet on Miranda contributing his songwriting to Mary Poppins Returns, you would have to think that there’s no way Disney would allow his talent to go untapped. And of course this isn’t the first time they’ve worked together as Miranda composed original songs for Disney’s upcoming animated film Moana. And in a way this has all just come full circle, with some of Disney’s classic films actually influencing a young Miranda.
“My God, those Disney musicals. I feel really lucky that I was a kid when they went on that run of animated musicals, starting with ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Not just animated movies, animated musicals. Howard Ashman [the late writer-lyricist of ‘Mermaid,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Aladdin’] figured out, ‘Oh my God, I can make even better musicals under this system than I can Off Broadway.’ I have never been more transported in my life than when ‘Under the Sea’ first started when I was nine years old. I said, ‘I cannot believe what is happening to me,’ and that feeling of vertigo in a movie theater. Something I’ve been chasing ever since. To be part of that legacy, and then ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King,’ it was just this incredible run that happened when I was ages 9 to 14. It’s very formative to me. I’m thrilled to be a part of that tradition.”
Mary Poppins Returns also stars Ben Wishaw and Glenn Close, and is set for release on Christmas Day 2018.
Last Updated: September 29, 2016