The magical Mary Poppins is taking flight again fifty years after her film debut. Julie Andrews brought the magical nanny to life in the 1964 Disney musical film directed by Robert Stevenson. Now, Emily Blunt picks up the umbrella to look in on the Banks family once again in MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
Songs are just as important to Disney’s new musical fantasy as they were in the 1964 film. The original soundtrack has become a classic, and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is synonymous with the story and character. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were tasked with writing music for MARY POPPINS RETURNS — and they’re not relying on the familiar tunes. They certainly have big shoes to fill, but the talented and experience duo is more than up to the task.
Marc Shaiman first worked as a theatre musical director before landing a job on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. The 59-year-old from New Jersey is revered in the music industry for his work on films, TV shows, and theatre. He’s worked on films such as WHEN HARRY MET SALLY…, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, and SISTER ACT. Shaiman also wrote original songs for the television series SMASH, and a number of awards shows. His most notable work comes from his success with the Tony award-winning Broadway version of HAIRSPRAY.
Scott Wittman met Shaiman during the latter’s SNL years — at the time, Wittman was directing stage shows for major artists. The two quickly became professional partners, working on Broadway productions of HAIRSPRAY, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS is the duo’s biggest film project to date. Shaiman composed the film’s score, while the pair wrote the songs together. As successful as they have already been, this film will almost certainly reach new audiences, and potentially make new fans of the pair’s previous collaborations.
Shaiman and Wittman are working to capture the same lyrical magic Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman conjured in the first film. The pair promises references to the songs and score created by the Sherman Brothers. Their new compositions incorporate quotes from fan-favorite tunes including “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, “A Spoonful of Sugar”, and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
For fans worried that the sequel might take a modern route in terms of music, have no fear. Shaiman recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about why he was a good fit for the role:
“I’m certainly writing in a style that you don’t quite hear anymore. I mean, I was so well-suited for this movie because I’m sure there are other directors over the years who have walked away from a scoring session of mine and said, ‘Why is this schmuck scoring my movie like it’s a Mary Poppins movie?’ And finally I actually was scoring a Mary Poppins movie.”
Shaiman should have no problem nailing the classic Mary Poppins tone in MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Shaiman and Wittman certainly don’t have a challenge with the performers as the cast includes Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, and the return of Dick Van Dyke. The film hasn’t even hit theaters yet and it already has award nominations including Best Original Score. All signs are pointing to major box office achievements this holiday season.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS hits theaters December 19, 2018.