Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18: Mary's Official Debut

On this day in 2004, Cameron Mackintosh's stage production of Mary Poppins officially opened for a limited run at the Bristol Hippodrome in Bristol, England. Already in previews since September 15, the musical continued until November 6 when it moved to the Prince Edward Theatre in London the following December.
The show's origin can be traced back to 1993 when Cameron Mackintosh (a theatrical producer known for Cats and Phantom of the Opera) acquired the rights to develop a stage play adaptation of Pamela Travers' book Mary Poppins. It actually took a year for the ninety-plus-year-old Travers to give Mackintosh the green light. It would take another 8 years before Disney opened talks with Mackintosh on a possible collaboration. In this way, the stage production could use the familiar music (written by the Sherman Brothers) from the Disney film version. By 2003, a workshop of the show was already in the works with new music written by George Stiles & Anthony Drewe, as well as the Sherman Brothers' old favorites.
When Mary Poppins had its world premiere on this day in 2004, the cast included Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary and Gavin Lee as Bert. Following the success of the West End production (at the Prince Edward Theatre), a Broadway production debuted on November 26, 2006 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Broadway favorite Ashley Brown (known to Disney fans for her performance in On the Record and Beauty and the Beast) was brought in to play Mary and Gavin Lee revived his role as Bert.
Although the London production closed two years later in 2008, Broadway's Mary Poppins continues its run in New York City.

Click HERE for more September 18 Disney history.

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