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Why Mary Poppins Nearly Wasn't Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Published: 19 Dec 13, 11:02am  |  Author: DG Music

Did you catch Marry Poppins over Christmas? Richard and Robert Sherman's film score for Mary Poppins is full of wonderful tunes. But... the hit children's favourite Mary Poppins very nearly wasn't a musical at all – or even a film for that matter.

The 1964 Disney movie of Mary Poppins is based on a series of books by Australian PL Travers, real name Helen Goff, and Travers hated the idea of a musical and detested Disney animation, so it was only because of financial pressure that she finally agreed to discuss the idea of a Mary Poppins film with Walt Disney at all.

Saving Mr Banks

As we see in Saving Mr Banks , the current movie about how Mary Poppins came to the screen, PL Travers travelled to Los Angeles, stayed for two weeks, and every day wrangled with Walt Disney and his production team over the content and style of the film. Because Travers didn't trust the Disney team, many of the these discussions were recorded on tape at Travers insistence. Consequently, many hours of those discussions were available to the Saving Mr Banks movie producers and it's this information which form the basis of the film starring Emma Thompson. Irritable, fractious and argumentative, Mrs Travers was clearly not the easiest person to work with, particularly for the Sherman Brothers who wrote the music. But thank goodness she finally gave in. Mary Poppins is one of the best children's films of all time and the music is certainly exceptional.

The Sherman Brothers - Composing Geniuses

It’s surprising that the Sherman Brothers are not as famous as some other composers of theatrical and film music, because the record is second to none and they are without doubt one of the most successful popular music composing teams of all time. They won two Oscars, were nominated for a further seven, and in addition to winning two Grammy Awards, they have been nominated many times. They certainly rival the better known Rodgers and Hammerstein for the quality of their lyrics and tunes – especially for shows for children.

Take a look at the Sherman Brothers record of hit shows and films: The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats, Charlotte’s Web, Winnie the Pooh, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and most successful of all, 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which as well as being a great film, went on to become one of the most successful and lucrative stage musicals of all time.

Sadly, Robert Sherman died in 2012, but Richard Sherman is still with us and has recently been seen on the TV in documentaries talking about his work.

And PL Travers?

She hated the Mary Poppins movie - and told everyone so. In fact, because of her attitude, Disney famously didn’t invite her to the premier – but she turned up anyway. And despite her somewhat colourful private life (she had both male and female lovers and a son whom she adopted on the advice of her astrologer), she was recognised by the establishment, was awarded the Order of the British Empire and lived on the proceeds of Mary Poppins until her death at the age of 96.


Mary_Poppins6.jpg is by Trailer screenshot (Mary Poppins Trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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DG Music is a professional Music Agency providing bands and musicians for private events and public performances.

The business has been operating since 2004 and is proud of the professional and friendly service it provides.

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