Disclosure: This post is part of my all expense paid trip to Los Angeles, CA provided by Disney, in exchange for coverage. However, opinions are 100% mine.
The Mary Poppins Returns, music composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman surely felt some pressure in the making of this new sequel in doing justice to the original 1964 film. But, a job well done indeed. ***TODAY is the DAY*** Mary Poppins Returns is now playing in theatres nationwide! During my recent press trip to Los Angeles for Mary Poppins Returns world premiere, we had the opportunity to interview the songwriters and composers of the film: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Being a baby boomer and have watched the original Mary Poppins so many times throughout the years, it was quite a surprise to learn that we weren’t getting any song repeats like “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” Have no fear, the music will NOT disappoint you, it is FABULOUS and exceeded my expectations!
Should Music from Original Film be Included?
Both Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were aware that Emily Blunt would be compared to Julie Andrews and Lin-Manual Miranda to Dick Van Dyke. Having them sing original songs from the original film would not be fair. Some of the melodies were included in the original songs, however, they were very strategic about it.
Marc: “Rob and Marc Platt were very confident that we should not do that. And even my use of melodies in the score. Me and Rob were loving it. When she first comes in and meets, and she’s going around the living room talking to them… It was almost magical, the second she walked in the archway. All the ways until the end of the scene, she goes, “All right, I’ll take the job, I’ll stay.” That whole song, I could play it in a way that was matching what as going on in the scene. And it ended with, “Jane and Michael Banks.” Just as Jane looked at Michael. And nodded her head like, we’re doing this. But then Marc Platt said, “Have trust in your own songs, and stuff. And Let’s not do that this early in the movie.” That was genius.
Involving Richard Sherman
The duo expressed their joy in working with the Oscar-winning songwriting Robert and Richard Sherman as consultants on the make of Mary Poppins Returns. Marc Shaiman told us he felt like a 4-year-old boy again, watching the movie for the first time.” Wow, I can just imagine that I would have been too! Just listening to these two composers, brought me back so many memories from my childhood.
Marc: “But the glorious part of it was, he loved our movies so much.” He really felt like it was in good hands. And that in some way, he said to us that the baton had been passed.”
Working with Lin Manuel and Emily
Scott: “So we got to sculpt all this material on them.” But we knew we had it right, so it sounded like it was in the same neighborhood of the first movie. And also the first movie was like our teacher. Was our parents. So you grow up with that, there’s gonna be something about what we wrote, that would come from that. And would sound similar and you can’t try to copy, or even write something that’s so close, that it will only make us pale in comparison. And yet we couldn’t help but find ourselves in the Mary Poppins vernacular. Musically and lyrically. And obviously, Emily’s take on it is so singular to her. She just came in with such confidence. And wit. And so it was easy to kind of fit these pieces on.”
Talk About a Challenge!
A part of the interview with these two amazing composers was when they spoke about Ben Whishaw‘s soulful solo in the attic, “A Conversation” inspired by a friend of theirs who had recently lost his wife. “And he would say that, when everyone was gone, he would walk around – that he would converse with her still every night. About the day. But then every now and then, he would say, “Man, where did you go?” So we asked for his blessing to music that part of his life that’s very special.” That brought a teary eye to many of us in the room.
How was it working on Mary Poppins Returns?
Scott: “Well, it’s funny. A Disney way, it really was a dream, it’s a wish your heart makes. So it was a love that – that time, I said to someone recently, that that four months, we were in a hotel room in New York. Just thinking about it, thinking about it. I said It’s the best time I’ve ever had in a hotel room.”
Marc: “I’ve worked with hundreds of directors. But Rob is singular in his vision and he’s straightforward – and the blinders are up. And so you do feel kind – it gives you confidence of like, Well, ’cause that – it won’t. I mean, he’s just.”
Get the Soundtrack!
Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have so many popular favorite movie songs under their sleeve, such as “When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and “Sister Act” to name a few. Even though my favorite Let’s Go Fly a Kite wasn’t part of the songs, I am now obsessed with the new ones! The songs in new Mary Poppins Returns by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are out of this world. Once you watch the movie today, you will be hooked.