POP­PING IN AGAIN

Lin-Manuel Mi­randa gladly de­parted the stage to join the cast of Mary Pop­pins Re­turns, which re­unites the world with a beloved char­ac­ter

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS -

Ev­ery­one has a Mary Pop­pins mem­ory. Even those of us born decades af­ter the film’s orig­i­nal 1964 premiere re­call hum­ming to its melodies ( Chim Chim Cher-ee), con­tem­plat­ing its wis­dom (In ev­ery job that must be done, there is an el­e­ment of fun!) and wish­ing we got a spoon­ful of sugar to make our medicine go down.

Lin-Manuel Mi­randa has a Mary Pop­pins mem­ory. The com­poser, lyri­cist, play­wright, rap­per and ac­tor re­counts it to us in vivid de­tail.

“I had the puffy, white Dis­ney VHS con­tainer – do you re­mem­ber those?” he asks – a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion.

“I had the Mary Pop­pins edi­tion. I re­mem­ber, I would cry so hard dur­ing Feed the Birds that we would turn off the movie.

“I don’t think I’ve ever ac­tu­ally watched the movie the whole way through.”

Funny that, see­ing as though Mi­randa will star along­side Emily Blunt in the up­com­ing Mary Pop­pins Re­turns, which he calls a “love let­ter to that first film”.

Mi­randa, who en­joys a de­ity-like sta­tus within the mu­si­cal the­atre com­mu­nity, (he wrote and starred in Hamil­ton: An Amer­i­can Mu­si­cal; wrote the sound­track for hit Dis­ney movie Moana and has per­formed po­etry for Barack Obama), will play the char­ac­ter of Jack the Lamp­lighter.

We don’t know a lot about Jack be­cause he doesn’t ac­tu­ally fea­ture in the ’64 orig­i­nal. But Mi­randa is happy to shed light on a char­ac­ter he’s clearly rev­elled in bring­ing to life.

“All we re­ally know about Jack is that he was an ap­pren­tice to Bert – from the first Mary Pop­pins film,” says Mi­randa.

In the orig­i­nal, the three women jos­tle to run an en­tire coun­try while si­mul­ta­ne­ously run­ning each other into the ground.

Cour­tesy of a trio of fe­ro­ciously fo­cused lead per­for­mances, it is not hard to see why The Favourite is a enig­matic Bert was played by the equally enig­matic Dick Van Dyke, who re­turns to play a small part in the se­quel.

“Bert had like, 500 freak­ing jobs,” laughs Mi­randa, “he played all the in­stru­ments, he was a chim­ney sweep.

“But where Bert and Mary were con­tem­po­raries and had a flir­ta­tious re­la­tion­ship – Jolly Hol­i­day was one long flirt ses­sion, let’s not kid our­selves – Jack is the same age as the Banks chil­dren. So he has this sense of rever­ence, this awe to­wards Mary.”

Di­rected by Rob Marshall and pro­duced by his part­ner John DeLuca – two men who know their way around a movie mu­si­cal, hav­ing both been in­volved in the Os­car­win­ning 2002 film adap­ta­tion of Chicago – it’s not un­likely that Mary Pop­pins Re­turns will of­fer au­di­ences of all ages a sort of es­capism from the tu­mul­tuous year that’s been. Mary Pop­pins Re­turns opens in cin­e­mas on New Year’s Day fron­trun­ner in all the cat­e­gories that mat­ter this awards sea­son.

It is early in the 18th cen­tury, and on the face of it, Queen Anne (Olivia Col­man) reigns supreme. How­ever, her phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing keep fluc­tu­at­ing wildly.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of this power vac­uum is Queen Anne’s trusted ad­vi­sor (and se­cret lover) Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz). This is rudely in­ter­rupted by the ar­rival to court of Abi­gail (Emma Stone), a cousin of Sarah.

The com­bus­tive fem­i­nine fire­power con­sis­tently ig­nited by the three leads here is a won­der to be­hold.

Mu­si­cal the­atre leg­end Lin-Manuel Mi­randa plays the char­ac­ter of Jack the Lamp­lighter in Mary Pop­pins Re­turns.

Rachel Weisz is in fine form in the su­perb The Favourite.

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