Richard Sherman discusses his role in the timeless classic and working closely with Walt Disney for the Blu-ray release of Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversay Edition
Ahead of her supercalifragilistic renaissance in the motion picture, Saving Mr Banks, Disney proudly announces the world’s most famous nanny Mary Poppins making her long, anticipated high definition debut on 18th November 2013. Marking 50 years since Mary Poppins was originally released, the digitally restored Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition Disney Blu-ray preserves the on screen magic with stunning picture and sound, ensuring a glorious introduction to the Oscar® winning classic for a whole new generation.
What was your role in writing the songs for “MARY POPPINS”?
We had done some project work for Disney, previously, on films like “THE PARENT TRAP,” when one day Walt Disney handed us a book. It was the very first of the four Mary Poppin’s books and Walt said, “Read this and tell me what you think.” Robert and I read it and realized we were facing the opportunity of a lifetime to create a great musical fantasy that could potentially rival “The Wizard of Oz.” “MARY POPPINS” still remains more than just a song-writing project for my brother, Robert, and myself because it was after our work on the film that we were hired on by the studio as staff writers.
How closely did you work with Walt on the music for “MARY POPPINS”?
My brother and I developed a musical outline based upon six chapters in the book and then asked Walt’s assistant if we could meet with him to discuss our ideas. We came into the meeting and started talking and Walt never interrupted us. He seemed as enthusiastic as we were about our ideas, but very quiet. At one point Walt said, “Let me see your notes.” We handed him our copy of the “Mary Poppins” book in which we had underlined the six chapters we wanted to use. Walt chuckled to himself, pulled out his own copy of “Mary Poppins,” and showed us he had underlined the same six chapters.
Is it true that “MARY POPPINS” was the culmination of a 15 year dream of Walt’s to bring the story to the screen?
There were a number of people who had tried to do this project previously. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and Samuel Goldwyn had all tried to obtain the rights to “MARY POPPINS” with no luck. I think that Walt’s version prevailed because he had a unique sense of which parts of the book would appeal to audiences and also a unique ability to spark creativity in people. For example, in the books, there are actually three separate male characters -a houseman, a sidewalk artist and a chimney sweep - that were combined into one character named Bert for the film. Walt said, “We don’t need all three characters, it’s getting too confusing. Let’s just have one character who’s a jack-of-all-trades.”
MARY POPPINS: 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION IS OUT NOW ON BLU-RAY