In this article we’re going to cover one of the most unusual musicals of our time, the part human, part animated Mary Poppins.
Mary Poppins. It’s probably the one musical responsible for making Julie Andrews a household name. But Mary Poppins was more than just that.
The musical movie, made in 1964, was probably the crowning achievement in Walt Disney’s career. It was his first feature to mix real people with animated characters. At the time, this was some pretty cool stuff. And Disney made sure that everything for this movie masterpiece was just right. He hired one of the best songwriting teams of the time, the Sherman brothers, Robert and Richard. The score for this movie is still to this day considered the teams best ever. The movie itself was nominated for 13 Oscars. It won 5 of those nominations, including Best Actress, Julie Andrews, Best Musical Score, and Best Song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
But Mary Poppins was more than just great music. It was a purely delightful story of two children in desperate need of their father’s love. Ultimately it took Mary Poppins to make the father realize that it wasn’t a nanny that the children needed but their father. As the movie goes on we get to see this man, who at first is only concerned with the bottom line figures at his bank, transform into a loving father who takes his children out to fly a kite. Ultimately, Poppins, who the children had grown to love almost as a mother, drops out of the picture at the end realizing that the children belong with their father and that she would only be in the way. The ultimate sacrifice one would say.
Musical highlights in this one are numerous. There is of course the ever popular “Spoonful Of Sugar” which Poppins sings to the children in order to get them to take their medicine after an outing in the rain. Then there is the classic “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” which was sung during the animated horse race that Poppins, Bert the chimney sweeper and the children attended. And if you want to hear one of the most beautiful songs ever, and sung by an angelic voice, there is “Feed The Birds.” This is probably the highlight of Andrews’ vocal performances. Aside from that, the story of the old lady feeding the birds is one that only a soul without a heart wouldn’t cry to. Of course you can’t leave out the Oscar winning tune “Chim Chim Cher-ee” which was sung during Poppins’, Bert’s and the children’s moonlight walk on top of the buildings of the city.
The great music just goes on and on. There isn’t a bad tune in this movie. The final tune “Fly A Kite” where the father and children are finally doing something together as a family is really what the whole thing is all about. Yes, a lot of this musical is pure fantasy. But the lessons taught are lessons that every parent in this world should long remember. Children need their parents, not a nanny.