Show History



Mary Poppins is a musical based on the book series by P.L. Travers of the same name and, more notably, the 1964 musical film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.  The stage show features many of the original songs made famous by the Oscar-winning duo of Richard and Robert Sherman, with additional music and lyrics from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, respectively, and a book by Julian Fellowes, creator for the television series, Downton Abbey.

The genesis of the musical came at the hands of mega-producer, Cameron Mackintosh (Les Misérables, Cats, Miss Saigon).  In 1993, he met with Pamela Travers, the author of the original book series, to get her permission to musicalize the stories of Mary Poppins.  When Travers agreed, he got in contact with Disney Theatrical in 2001, sparking a partnership that would allow the show to use music from the original movie.

Around 2002, Stiles and Drewe (Olivier winners for Honk!) had heard about the new collaboration and wrote a demo song entitled "Practically Perfect" for the producers.  Once they listened to the song, they were brought onto the creative team.  Fellowes was then brought aboard for his "clear understanding of the social niceties of the English class system that prevailed in the Edwardian era."  Rounding off the production team for original production were director, Sir Richard Eyre, and Bob Crowley, a multi-Tony winner who had previously worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Ballet and Royal Opera.  A workshop of the musical was held at the end of 2003 at the Old Vic Theatre, using the cast from a recently closed production of My Fair Lady.

The stage adaptation pulls some elements from the original book that were eliminated from the film, including the walking statue and the ladders to the stars.  Several scenes from the film were omitted, most notably the scenes of Uncle Albert laughing on the ceiling and the dancing penguins in "Jolly Holiday," which were replaced with dancing statues and a trip to Mrs. Corry's shop, respectively.  The musical generally places more emphasis on Jane and Michael being naughty children and on their parents having more of a dysfunctional relationship.  Mrs. Banks is no longer a suffragette, but a former actress, and Mr. Banks' back story is much more fleshed out.  A handful of musical sequences have also been placed in a different chronology, including bumping up "Let's Go Fly a Kite" to the middle of the show, rather than the end.


Mary Poppins had its world premiere at the Bristol Hippodrome in London with a limited engagement from September 18, to November 6, 2004.  The production, starring Laura Michelle Kelly and Gavin Lee, then moved to the Prince Edward Theatre on December 15, running more than three years until January 12, 2008.  With a very successful production, the producers' eyes turned west, and the New Amsterdam Theatre housed the Broadway premiere on November 16, 2006.  Initially starring Broadway performer, Ashley Brown, and returning player, Gavin Lee, it made minimal changes to the songs and staging.  After almost seven years of success, the Broadway production closed on March 3, 2013, to make room for Disney Theatricals' new production of Aladdin.

For the touring productions of the show, the sets were significantly reduced in size and intermediate scenes were removed to accommodate for smaller houses.  The first tour began in the UK on June 4, 2008, playing until April 18, 2009.  The US tour started in Chicago on March 25, 2009, featuring performances from the leads of the Broadway production, Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee.  Like its Broadway equivalent, the tour was extremely successful, playing its last performance in Anchorage, Alaska, on June 2, 2013.

Mary Poppins has also seen a significant amount of play outside of the UK and the US.  The first foreign-language production opened on October 18, 2008, in Goteburg, Sweden, performed entirely in Swedish.  Other locations for international productions include Finland, Mexico City, Australia, Japan and France.  The first regional production of the musical was staged at the Dunfield Theatre Cambridge in Ontario, Canada.

Cultural Influence

  • Mary Poppins is the first Disney Theatrical show to open in the UK.  It is also the first show to open in collaboration with another theatre company.
  • At the time of writing, Mary Poppins was the 30th longest-running show in Broadway history.
  • Mary Poppins was the first live-action Disney movie to be adapted to the stage.  Its success gave Disney Theatrical confidence to adapt other live-action films: High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and Newsies.


  • The West End production of Mary Poppins was nominated for eight additional Olivier Awards in 2005, including Best New Musical and Best Director.
  • The Broadway production of Mary Poppins was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Choreography.  It was also nominated for six Drama Desk Awards (including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Book of a Musical and Outstanding Choreography), eleven Outer Critics Circle Awards (including Outstanding New Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score), and a Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Production of a Musical.
  • Celebrities that have starred in Mary Poppins (aside from those listed above) include: Christian Borle (Bert), David Haig (George Banks), Scarlett Strallen (Mary), Gavin Creel (Bert), Philip Quast (George Banks), Lisa O'Hare (Mary), Robert Madge (Michael), Louise Gold (Miss Andrew/Miss Smythe), Rebecca Luker (Winifred Banks), Daniel Jenkins (George Banks), Jack Montgomery (Michael), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Jane), Aden Gillett (George Banks), Harry Stott (Michael), Jenny Galloway (Mrs. Brill), Linzi Hateley (Winifred Banks), Jane Carr (Mrs. Brill), Henry Hodges (Michael), Jonathan Freeman (Admiral Boom/Bank Chairman), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Ensemble), Martin Ball (George Banks) and Simon Burke (George Banks).