Image Credit: Supplied

We’re all familiar with the enchanting English nanny that made us wish all babysitters were magical. Since the 1964 film, the franchise has won the hearts of many around the world and next month, the musical comes to Dubai. Before you treat yourself to the magic that will hit the stage from May 1-25 at the Dubai Opera, here are 10 things you should know about Mary Poppins:


1. The franchise includes a film and a play

In 1964, Disney released the film after trying to obtain film rights from 1938. The rights were finally obtained in 1961 but only after PL Travers, the author of the books, got script approval rights. The musical made its debut in 2004 first as a West End production and then on Broadway in 2006.


2. It was based on a children’s book series

The film and the plays were based on a children’s book series by Pamela Travers, known to the public as PL Travers. The series consisted of eight books, first published in 1934 and centred on a magical English nanny named Mary Poppins.


3. It wasn’t a direct adaptation of the books

For one, the character of Mary Poppins herself is portrayed differently. In the film, Poppins is less vain and more sympathetic towards the children as opposed to her intimidating and rather cold demeanour in the books. The children in the play are also naughtier than their counterparts in the book and film.


4. First Disney Musical to have premiered in the UK

The musical had its premiere at the Bristol Hippodrome and then moved to the Prince Edward Theatre in December, 2004. At the time, it was the only Disney musical to have premiered in the UK. The production had Laura Michelle Kelly playing the role of Mary and Gavin Lee as Bert.


5. It had a long run

The West End production began in 2004 and ended after 3 years, having completed over 1,250 performances. The Broadway production ended after more than six years, in 2013, having completed 2,619 performances. In 2011, it became the 30th longest running show in Broadway history.


6. Saving Mr. Banks

The making of the film was made into a movie starring Emma Thompson as PL Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of PL Travers and her tumultuous collaboration with Walt Disney, until the very end when she got to watch the final version of the film.


7. Travers drew inspiration from her childhood

She created the Banks family by drawing from her own troubled childhood, with a father who was addicted to alcohol. Mary Poppins is said to be based on her aunt, Helena Morehead, who she wrote about in her semi-autobiographical story Aunt Sass.


8. Award-winning streak

The film received 13 Academy award nominations and won five; including best actress for Julie Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song for Chim Chim Cher-ee. It was also nominated for and won Golden Globe and Grammy Awards.


9. Technical breakthroughs

A sodium vapour camera, developed by Petro Vlahos, was used during the “Jolly Holiday” sequence. This camera was used by Disney for many other projects from 1961-1990.


10. Mary Poppins returns

The sequel, starring Emily Blunt, is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2018. It is set during the era of the Great Depression, 20 years after the first film. The plot of the film is going to involve Mary Poppins visiting the children once again, after they experience a family tragedy. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Blunt spoke about how her version of Mary would be more similar to Travers’.


Don’t miss it

Mary Poppins runs at the Dubai Opera until May 25. Tickets, starting at Dh250, are available on dubaiopera.com.

— Anieka Sequeira is an intern at Gulf News.