Mary Poppins Returns will have an amazing selection of original songs - and here's what we know about the soundtrack from our set visit. Rob Marshall's sequel to Disney's 1964 classic will bring back the magical nanny (now played by Emily Blunt), the Banks children (Ben Whishaw as Michael and Emily Mortimer as Jane) and the idyllic Cherry Tree Lane, but most important is the music.
The original songs for Mary Poppins, written by the Sherman brothers, are the thing of legend. "Supercalifragilistic", "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Chim Chim Cheree" are iconic outside of the film, while 2013's Saving Mr. Banks added a whole new layer to "Let's Go Fly A Kite". Heard by children for over 50 years, they almost transcend coming from a movie... which makes writing new ones a big challenge.
Taking up that heavy load is Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the songwriters behind Hairspray, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and more. When Screen Rant visited the set of Mary Poppins Returns, we heard several of the songs played, as well as got a look at their possible titles from a display of the film's narrative:
- The Place Where Lost Things Go
- Can You Imagine That
- The Royal Doulton Music Hall
- Turning Turtle
- A Cover Is Not The Book
- Trip A Little Light Fantastic
- Nowhere To Go But Up
"The Place Where Lost Things Go" is likely about memories, given that Michael and Jane have forgotten about their initial experience with Mary Poppins (per producer Mark Platt, "There's been a loss in the family, and so there's a need for Mary Poppins to come back into their world"). "Can You Imagine That" comes alongside a trippy sequence after Mary first arrives taking the new kids on a bathtub adventure. "The Royal Doulton Music Hall" is Mary Poppins Returns' animated sequence (the effects for which are intricate), seeing the gang (Mary, kids and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Jack) travel in a broken piece of china and end up having to perform in a music hall. "Turning Turtle" will come from Meryl Streep, who plays Mary's upside down sister (the set for her home was literally upside down). "A Cover Is Not The Book" and "Nowhere To Go Is Up" appear to be the emotional and thematic caps to the movie.
We got to see part of the filming of "Trip A Little Light Fantastic", a nighttime sequence in a London park where Jack and his fellow leeries (streetlamp lighters) perform a song-and-dance number for Mary Poppins and the children. From that one alone, it was clear Marshall is making sure the soundstage sets are expansive, and the dancers numerous.
Everybody involved in the production seemed rather impressed with Shaiman and Wittman's work. Miranda, who made his name writing Hamilton, loved to work for the duo, saying "We write so differently that there’s no jealousy. It’s just like a thrill that I get to play in this world. We don’t normally get to play together." Platt shared a similar view:
"What we created is a new and vibrant, wholly original musical score written by Marc and Scott that tells our story of Mary Poppins and our story of the Banks family and new characters. It is particularly well suited to the story that we're telling."
There's no guarantee that this is the limit of the original songs written for Mary Poppins Returns (the first film had considerably more), but their conception, titling and indeed what was heard on set is promising. Emily Blunt certainly thinks they're going to win audiences over: "I think that these songs, even though you haven't heard them before, there is something about the music that seems familiar, and I think that is always a sign of a great song, if you feel like I've heard this, and you realize you haven't but it's just that good that it strikes a chord in you."
- Mary Poppins Returns (2018) release date: Dec 19, 2018