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Photo credit: Mary Poppins (Photo courtesy of Mary Poppins)

Everything you need to know about ‘Mary Poppins’ in London

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

We all wish we could have had a nanny like Mary Poppins. Conjuring up magic moments and a seemingly endless assortment of knick-knacks from her bag, the Banks children are in good hands with Mary Poppins looking after them.

The Disney film was first adapted into a musical in the 2000s, and after a decade away from London is back at the Prince Edward Theatre. Mary Poppins is a supercalifragilistic musical that you can't miss in the West End.

Here's our complete guide to the West End production of Mary Poppins, with Mary Poppins tickets available on LondonTheatre.co.uk.

What is Mary Poppins about?

Jane and Michael Banks need a new nanny. Inviting dozens of nannies to their house on Cherry Tree Lane, none of them are the perfect fit. That's until Mary Poppins comes along, flying on her umbrella and immediately making everything spick and span. With the help of jack-of-all-trades Bert, the foursome go on a whole host of unbelievable adventures, stepping into paintings and breathing life into the world around them.

Is Mary Poppins based on a true story?

Although the Mary Poppins story is fictional, the Mary Poppins character was popularised thanks to the 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews. But, did you know the nanny was brought to life in a collection of short stories by P. L. Travers, which were first published in 1926.

When did Mary Poppins premiere?

The world premiere of Mary Poppins took place at Bristol Hippodrome, with performances from 15 Sept. - 6 Nov. 2004. A month after its regional run, the West End premiere of Mary Poppins opened at the Prince Edward Theatre from 15 Dec. 2004, where it ran for over three years to Jan. 12, 2008.

Nearly two years after the London production, the Broadway premiere of Mary Poppins opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre from 16 Oct. 2006, with West End cast members reprising their acclaimed performances in New York. Mary Poppins ran for longer than its West End original, closing on 3 Mar. 2013.

The West End revival of Mary Poppins began performances at the Prince Edward Theatre from 23 Oct. 2019. Currently, the production is suspended due to the pandemic but is expected to return from 7 Aug. 2021. 

Photo credit: Mary Poppins (Photo courtesy of Mary Poppins)

Who wrote Mary Poppins?

The Mary Poppins book is written by Julian Fellowes, an English actor and screenwriter. He's also written stories for musicals including The Wind in the Willows, Half a Sixpence and School of Rock. For television, he's penned Downton Abbey and Belgravia.

Music and lyrics are by the Sherman Brothers, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The Sherman Brothers have previously written the score for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while Stiles and Drewe are the composing masterminds behind Betty Blue Eyes and Soho Cinders.

Who is in the cast of Mary Poppins?

Zizi Strallen plays Mary Poppins, reprising the role from a national touring production of Mary Poppins. She's previously been in Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre, Follies at the National Theatre and gave an award-winning performance as Lana in Matthew Bourne's The Car Man.

The Olivier Award-nominated actor Charlie Stemp plays Bert, who is best known for playing Arthur Kipps in Half a Sixpence. In 2018, he made his Broadway debut as Taylor Trensch in Hello, Dolly!.

Petula Clark plays the Bird Woman, best known for her Grammy Award-winning song "Downtown". The full cast is completed by Charlie Anson, Amy Griffiths, Liz Robertson, Claire Machin, Jack North, Paul F. Monaghan, Yves Adang, Angeline Bell, Lydia Boulton, Alison Connell, Adam Davidson, Danielle Delys, Joseph Dockree, Charlie Donnelly, Stan Doughty, Glen Facey, Davide Fienauri, Harry Francis, Lyndsey Gardiner, Ian Gareth-Jones, Maria Garrett, Mark Goldthorp, Jacqueline Hughes, Emma Hunter, Jason Kajdi, Sam Lathwood, Jordan Livesey, Tania Mathurin, Laura Medforth, Alex Pinder, Ben Redfern, Clare Rickard, Lucie-Mae Sumner, Scott Waugh, Monique Young, Katie Cox, Rose Dawson, Megan Donovan, Megan Judge, Ellie Kit Jones, Maddison Thew, Logan Clark, George Hamblin, Charlie Irwin, Charlie Murphy, Frankie Treadaway and Fred Wilcox.

What theatre in London is Mary Poppins playing at?

Mary Poppins is currently playing at the Prince Edward Theatre. Named after Edward VIII, it's been a casino, a cinema and cabaret hall. Previous shows at the Prince Edward Theatre include Aladdin, Miss Saigon and Jersey Boys.

What is the running time of Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins has a running time of 2 hours and 50 minutes, including a 15 minute interval.

What are the songs in Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins features music from the 1964 Disney film, including "Jolly Holliday", "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Let's Go Fly A Kite". There's also original songs created especially for the musical too. Here's all the songs in Mary Poppins.

Act 1

"Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Bert
"Cherry Tree Lane" (Part 1) - George, Winifred, Jane, Michael, Mrs. Brill, Robertson Ay, Katie Nanna, Bert, Admiral Boom, Mrs. Lark
"The Perfect Nanny" - Jane, Michael
"Cherry Tree Lane" (Part 2) - George, Winifred, Jane, Michael, Mrs. Brill, Robertson Ay
"Practically Perfect" - Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael
Jolly Holiday" - Bert, Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael, Neleus, Statues, Parkgoers
"Cherry Tree Lane" (Reprise) - George
"Being Mrs. Banks" - Winifred
"Jolly Holiday" (Reprise) - Jane and Michael
"A Spoonful of Sugar" - Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael, Robertson Ay, and Winifred
"Feed the Birds" - Bird Woman and Mary Poppins
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - Mary Poppins, Mrs. Corry, Bert, Jane, Michael, Annie, Fannie, Spellers
"Playing the Game" - Mary Poppins, Valentine, Ensemble
"Chim Chim Cher-ee" (Reprise) - Bert and Mary Poppins

Act 2

"Brimstone and Treacle" (Part 1) - Miss Andrew
"Let's Go Fly a Kite" - Bert, Park Keeper, Jane, Michael, Park-goers
"Good for Nothing" - George
"Being Mrs. Banks" (Reprise) - Winifred
"Brimstone and Treacle" (Part 2) - Mary Poppins and Miss Andrew
"Step in Time" - Bert, Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael, Sweeps
"A Man Has Dreams" (Reprise) - George
"A Spoonful of Sugar" (Reprise) - George and Bert
"Anything Can Happen" (Part 1) - Mary Poppins, Jane, Michael, Winifred
"Anything Can Happen" (Part 2) - Mary, Bert, Jane, Michael, Company
"A Spoonful of Sugar" (Reprise 2) - Mary Poppins
"A Shooting Star" - Orchestra

What are the reviews of Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins has transformed the Prince Edward Theatre into a world of wonder, so it's no surprise that critics loved the show. In a five star review for LondonTheatre.co.uk, Mark Shenton said: "you can... bask in the gentle familiarity and delightful uplift of this story and the spit-spot production... the evening may have an old-fashioned feeling of a well-crafted [old school] book musical... but it delivers a timeless experience." 

In a review for The Guardian, Michael Billington praised Strallen as Poppins. He said: "Every movement [Straillen] makes is balletic - she doesn't just exit from a room but floats out of it with arms extended. On one level, Strallen is a brisk taskmistress; on another, she is a bright-eyed heavenly visitor whose mission is to restore harmony to the Banks family." The Evening Standard similarly praised the revival, with Nick Curtis remarking that: "[Mary Poppins is a] highly polished piece of entertainment, hugely uplifting and cheerful... The dance routines and stage illusions are terrific."

Photo credit: Mary Poppins (Photo courtesy of Mary Poppins)

What awards has Mary Poppins won?

The 2019 revival of Mary Poppins was nominated for six Olivier Awards, winning two.

Best Theatre Choreographer - Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear
Best Set Design - Bob Crowley

How do I get tickets for Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins is currently scheduled to resume at the Prince Edward Theatre from 7 August.

Mary Poppins tickets are on sale now.

Photo credit: Mary Poppins (Photo courtesy of Mary Poppins)

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