DVD review: ‘Mary Poppins’ 45th anniversary sports lavish looks at grand stage show

If you’re a longtime Mary Poppins fan and already have one of its earlier editions on DVD, chances are you’re wondering if you should bother with the new 45th anniversary version, just out from Disney. And here’s your answer:

There’s probably not enough new content to merit a full purchase, but there’s definitely enough to merit taking a look via a rental. That’s because this Mary Poppins transcends the story’s origins in books, plays and on the big screen to launch a loving look at its recent stage incarnation as an impressively elaborate musical which expands the film’s story. And that musical may be coming your way on its national tour.

A 48-minute featurette on the DVD’s second disc is both informative and richly entertaining, with interviews of the stage musical’s two stars (Laura Michelle Kelly and Gavin Lee) at Sardi’s restaurant in New York City, mixed with footage of co-composer Richard Sherman (in California) and the show’s new English composers (from a home in France) as they collaborate long-distance. And their creative process gives credence to the Sherman brothers’ song Spoonful of Sugar, hich avows that for every job that must be done there is an element of fun. Lots of fun, in this case.

On the downside, there’s theater-crowd gushing about producer Cameron Mackintosh, which comes across as sucking-up irrelevancy — especially when the average viewer doesn’t know this Cameron from James Cameron. I’m not saying the veteran producer doesn’t deserve credit, but it shouldn’t approach this level of fawning exaltation.

More enjoyable in the new DVD featurette are generous looks at the stage production itself, which truly dazzles, looking as colorful and magical as much of the ultimate big-screen triumph of Walt Disney, who died just two years after its 1964 release. There’s even a full-length (about six-minute) number, also on disc two, showing Step in Time as it’s performed on stage. Stage production drawings also are featured.

All this stage-setting has me salivating for a national tour stop of the Mary Poppins stage musical in Houston this October — and believe me, I’ll be there. Meanwhile, I’m savoring the fantasy and fun of this grand movie musical, and reminding myself that classy family entertainment such as this can be truly timeless.

So thanks to you Walt, author P. L. Travers, screen stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, composers the Sherman brothers and so many others. In creating this crowning achievement, you’ve shown how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious entertainment can be.

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One Response to “DVD review: ‘Mary Poppins’ 45th anniversary sports lavish looks at grand stage show”

  1. From screen to stage, Mary Poppins flies high « Tripping the Light Says:

    […] without a ticket, you can savor some of the stage show via the latest Mary Poppins DVD. Its two-disc 45th anniversary edition includes a complete stage performance of Step in Time and a […]

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