Production has already begun on Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to the massive 1964 Disney hit musical, Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Thanks to a wealth of stories left behind by P.L. Travers, detailing the many adventures of the titular nanny, Disney have more than enough material to work with, and they've assembled just the cast to do it.
Emily Blunt will star as Mary Poppins, a practically perfect casting choice, while current Broadway darling and Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda will play opposite as lamplighter Jack. Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer play the adult Michael and Jane Banks, Colin Firth plays banker William Wilkins, and Meryl Streep plays Topsy, Mary's cousin. Van Dyke is also appearing in the sequel, as Mr. Dawes Jr., son of banking partner Mr. Dawes, whom Van Dyke also played in the original movie. Now, further casting of another Disney stalwart has been announced, with Angela Lansbury being confirmed for the cast list.
Lansbury will play the part of Balloon Lady, described as someone who "wreaks helium havoc in the park." The character was originally titled Balloon Woman, and appeared in Travers' second book, 'Mary Poppins Comes Back'. Though confirmation of Lansbury's character is new, her involvement in Mary Poppins Returns has long been suspected after Van Dyke accidentally name-dropped her when discussing the cast during an interview. Lansbury's involvement makes her the second actor over 90 to join the cast; both she and Van Dyke are 91 and still going strong.
It's a very welcome return to the Disney fold for Lansbury, who is much-loved and admired for her roles in movies such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks and of course, as the original voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. Her take on the titular song for that movie is widely regarded as pretty much perfect, and it's something she managed to recreate almost exactly, just a year ago. Elsewhere, Lansbury's career is vast, spanning many years on stage, in movies, and starring in TV shows. It'll certainly be a joy to see her back on screen in some capacity, though neither her nor Van Dyke's roles are likely to be all that substantial.
Mary Poppins Returns picks up twenty years after the events of Mary Poppins, in depression-era London. Michael Banks, now grown with children of his own, has become disconnected to them and faces crises of his own. Enter his former nanny, who will soon have everything looking rosy again.
Once again a musical movie, Van Duke has already confirmed that Mary Poppins Returns will give him the chance to sing and dance again (fingers crossed the cockney accent might make an appearance). Let's hope it also affords the same opportunity for Lansbury, because a little bit of Disney magic, delivered by such iconic Disney stars, is never going to be a bad thing.
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) release date: Dec 19, 2018