Let's Talk About...Mary Poppins

Greetings and salutations, fair readers! It is I, the one and only Dash, and I have emerged from my slumber (actually, I wish it was ...

Greetings and salutations, fair readers! It is I, the one and only Dash, and I have emerged from my slumber (actually, I wish it was a slumber. I've been bogged down by school and a new job, hence the lack of posts from me) to bring you some bookish news and my thoughts on the subject.

Okay, okay, I admit it. This post barely qualifies as bookish at all. And, I assure you all, most of my posts from henceforth will be bookish due to the nature of this blog. However, I have very strong feelings about this topic, and news has come to my attention that deeply irks me. What am I so up in arms about? Well, there are several reports that Disney is planning to make a sequel to Mary Poppins.

But Dash, you might be saying, that's wonderful news! Why aren't jumping up and down about this?!

Well friends, you have to understand that Mary Poppins holds a very special place in my heart. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and it's a definite touchstone of my childhood. I have seen this movie close to a hundred times and pretty much destroyed the VHS copy I used to own from overuse (same with my copy of Beauty and the Beast, but that's a whole other can of worms). In fact, one of my former babysitters can pretty much recite the movie verbatim because I forced her to watch it with me whenever she came over. Such is the depths of my affection for Mary Poppins.

In theory, I should be ecstatic about this news. But, try as I might, I can't get excited about the sequel because of one glaring fact: Julie Andrews won't be playing Mary Poppins.

To me, it just seems wrong to do a sequel without Ms. Andrews' picking up the umbrella again and flying onto some hopeless English family's stoop. Julie Andrews is Mary Poppins, plain and simple. I mean, come on, she won an Oscar for the role! But look, I get it. Despite being as amazing as ever, she's in her 80s now (not to mention, her voice is not as it once was due to throat surgery) and she probably isn't all that interested in dusting up her carpet bag and reprising her role as everyone's favorite nanny for a jolly holiday on the silver screen. Though, I have to admit, it would be interesting to see a much older and wiser Mary return to London to help the next generation of Banks' children and their parents find their way.

So, what exactly is Disney planning for this sequel? According to reports, the movie will be a musical and will be helmed by Rob Marshall (of Into The Woods fame). Reports have also indicated that Emily Blunt is in talks to play the lady who practically perfect in every way. It makes sense that she's the front runner, she looks a bit like Andrews and can sing. Though, to be blunt (pun totally not intended), she's not the greatest singer. She's got a lovely voice but, if we must replace the legendary Julie Andrews, why are none of the actresses from the West End/Broadway musical being considered? There were some truly spectacular woman in the stage role, and it feels wrong that they're not being considered.

I get it, they're not household names like Emily, but neither was Julie Andrews when she was cast! In fact, it was her very first movie. She'd auditioned for another part, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, a role she originated on the West End, and Audrey Hepburn was cast instead (despite the fact that Ms. Hepburn, who is wonderful in her own right, was not the best singer and was eventually dubbed over for the movie). Does anyone sense history repeating here, because my spider-sense is tingling.

But what about the plot for the sequel? Do we know anything about it? Well, details are still a bit sketchy. Allegedly, it will be set twenty years after the original movie and will follow the stories of P.L. Travers' other Mary Poppins books: in which Mary returns to Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, resumes her duties as the Banks' children's nanny, and takes them on more magical adventures.

My working theory for the plot is that an adult Jane and/or Michael have become a bit too much like their father, much to the unhappiness of their children. To set things right, Mary Poppins arrives with a change of the wind to watch after their children and bring some magic back into her now grown-up former charges lives. Again, this is all well and good, but it just feels wrong to do it without Andrews.

However, despite my misgivings about a sequel, this talk of expanding the Disney-Poppins narrative got me to thinking that we really don't know a lot about Mary or her past. We know she's magical (and likely has magic running in the family, if Uncle Albert and his flying fits of laughter are any indication), that she has a long history with Bert, and that she's come to London with a change of the wind to mend a family or two before. But, other than these little hints and details, we don't really know anything else about her.

What was her childhood like? How did she come by a talking umbrella, a measuring tape that measures people up, or a carpet bag with no bottom? Why did she become a nanny? What were her very first charges like? Are the Tumblr theories about her being a Time Lord true?

These are questions which, in the capable hands of Disney, could provide some very interesting answers. I for one would love to see a prequel detailing Mary's early life, how she met Bert, and what happened with the first family she ever cared for. I want to see a girl who is not yet perfect and poised, perhaps even a little naïve and misguided and with magical skills she may not yet have a grasp on. I want to see a young Mary find her calling and become the practically perfect in every way woman we all know and love. That is the kind of expansion to the narrative that would truly get me excited.

I am sure whatever sequel Disney creates will be marvelous but, forgive me, I'd rather go back to Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane with the worn DVD of the classic I already know and love rather than see it twenty years later. I like classics to stay classics, I'm strangely traditional in that way.

What about you? Are you excited about a sequel? Would you prefer a prequel like me? What would you want Disney to have a sequel or prequel be about? Are you knowledgeable about the P.L. Travers books and want to see Disney follow a particular storyline from the books? Let me know in the comments!

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