Original London Cast

Mary Poppins [Original London Cast Recording]

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

The idea of adapting the 1964 movie musical Mary Poppins into a stage musical seems so obvious that it is remarkable 41 years had to pass before it occurred with the 2005 London production that serves as the source for this original cast recording. The film, of course, was based on the children's books by P.L. Travers about a British nanny of the Edwardian era who possessed magical powers, and it succeeded due to a memorable performance by Julie Andrews and the song score by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. But Travers was not particularly enamored of the movie, and that may have delayed a stage version if her permission was required. Then, too, the Walt Disney Company, which made the film, only got into the musical theater business in a big way in the '80s. Questions of rights aside, there was also a structural problem in turning Travers' series of short stories into a script. The film simply went with the episodic nature of the material, but a stage adaptation would need more of a story line, a lesson a teenage Stephen Sondheim learned when he set out to adapt it for the stage as a writing exercise in college, when he was unable to complete a draft. (Ironically, Travers later invited him to do a professional version before Disney got involved.) Thus, the 2005 musical, while necessarily incorporating the most popular songs from the movie ("Chim Chim Cher-ee," "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," etc.) dumps a handful of others and alters the plot (such as it was) from the movie substantially. There is a bit more of the arbitrary Mary Poppins of the Travers stories, who is as likely to disappear without explanation as she was to appear without explanation. And there is a villain, an evil nanny, curiously named Miss Andrew. The parents of the children, meanwhile, have been turned into more of a modern, troubled couple, with the mother expressing her low self-esteem in "Being Mrs. Banks." That's one of a series of new numbers penned by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who also contribute to extensions and additions to the old songs, along with orchestrator William David Brohn. The new material is pedestrian compared with the old, unfortunately, and some of it may be a bit too gritty. "Temper, Temper," for instance, with its chorus, "Children who refuse to learn will not return," may scare the youngest viewers. But the show still has the big hits, and Laura Michelle Kelly leads a talented cast that performs earnestly. So, the initial point remains: at long last, Mary Poppins is an obvious work for the musical stage and likely to be a long-running success. [Mary Poppins opened on Broadway in 2006, a year after the London opening. No original cast album was recorded for that production, however, since this one was so similar.]

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Mary Poppins, musical
1 01:34 Amazon
2 03:28 Amazon
3 01:14 Amazon
4 01:08 Amazon
5 04:10 Amazon
6 06:23 Amazon
7 02:46 Amazon
8 03:31 Amazon
9 03:39
10 04:24
11 04:15 Amazon
12 04:03 Amazon
13 01:08 Amazon
14 02:38 Amazon
15 02:04 Amazon
16 04:06 Amazon
17 03:40 Amazon
18 05:34
19 03:31 Amazon
20 04:54
21 03:46 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick