As a little girl, I received a 45-rpm vinyl recording from the soundtrack of the new Walt Disney movie, Mary Poppins. On one side were the voices of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! which I loved. On the flip side was Feed the Birds, which I did not.
I would not see the movie until about fifteen years later, but I could still sing along with the theme song. I think I might remember all the lyrics to this day, along with Van Dyke’s famously horrible Cockney accent.
You might think the 1964 movie was the “original” version of Mary Poppins. Not so! The story’s author, P. L. Travers (the P.L. stands for Pamela Lyndon – her birth name was Helen Lyndon Goff), wrote Mary Poppins as a short story first. She based it on tales concocted to amuse her sisters in their youth. It released as a novel in 1934 and its success prompted Walt Disney (his own daughters loved the book and its sequels) to approach Travers about film rights. It took him twenty years to convince her, but in 1964, the version you and I know best came to the big screen.
Travers was not impressed, nor did she ever warm to Walt Disney. Following the premiere, she reportedly told Disney the animated portions simply had to go. His reply? “That ship has sailed.”
Years later, Travers told a reporter, “I’ve seen it once or twice, and I’ve learned to live with it. It’s glamorous and it’s a good film on its own level, but I don't think it is very like my books.” Of course, the film also made her a lot of money. Travers died at the age of ninety-six in 1996.
In 2004, the story was turned into a stage musical which stays truer to the books and included many of the songs from Disney’s movie. Downton Abbey fans will recognize the name of one of its writers, Juliann Fellowes.
A 2013 movie called Saving Mr. Banks depicts the making of the film and the quarrels between Disney and Travers (played by Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson). Last year, Disney released the movie Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt in the title role.
Why am I telling you all this? Because our own Prairie Players are bringing Mary Poppins to the Glesby Centre stage next month and you do not want to miss it! 2019 is the group’s fiftieth anniversary, and this tremendously ambitious production celebrates that milestone. Also! If you attend Wednesday or Thursday and were born in 1969, you’ll get to put your name in a draw for a fabulous door prize!
Ryle Ann Steeden plays the title role. (If that name sounds familiar, it should. Steeden won double awards at the 2018 Manitoba Country Voice competition, taking both People’s Choice and Judges’ awards). The cast also includes Jonah Hordeski, Avery Griffith, Laurel Giesbrecht, Rhea Goertzen, Dale Finney, Brendan Giesbrecht, Paige Griffin, Iris Jones, Jocelyn Lequier-Jobin, Jon Jonasson, Rachael Clarke, Mike Hoekstra, Vernon Vickruck, Terry Tully, Andrew Giesbrecht, Gord Holm , Rosa Albanese Rawlings, Judi Hoekstra, Kim Rauscher, Sharon Vickruck, Haley L’Heureux, Olivia Sokolosky, Margaret Bernhardt-Lowdon, and Brooklyn Delorme. Nearly all of these are also in the ensemble, in addition to Pat MacRae, Cassie Britton, and director Stephanie Kauffman. Timothy Holm is the pianist and Rita Carignan the producer.
|Jonah Hordeski & Ryle Ann Steeden|
A cast this large means lots of fans to fill the seats, so get your ticket soon. Show dates are as follows.
For the play only: November 20 and 21, 2019. Doors open at 7 with show at 7:30. Tickets cost $15.00 each, available at the Glesby Centre Box Office, 204-239-4848, or online.
Dinner Theatre – November 22 and 23, 2019. Doors open at 5:30 with Cocktails at 6, dinner at 6:30 and show at 7:30. Tickets are $50, available at the Box Office.
Since this is the stage version, some of the characters and some of the songs might seem new to you if you’re only familiar with the movie. But don’t worry. If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious.