The new film Mary Poppins Returns is full of Easter eggs – visual and musical allusions to the original 1964 film, intended as loving tributes to director Rob Marshall and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Here are six things to look for and hear about.
Nathanael Saleh as John Banks, Pixie Davies as Annabel Banks and Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.
(© Jay Maidment)
1. Well done, Sister Suffragette
In the original Mary Poppins, family matriarch Winnifred Banks (played by Glynis Johns) famously fights for women’s suffrage as a member of Emmeline Pankhurst’s suffragist movement. Decades later, in Mary Poppins Returns, her daughter Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) follows in her late mother’s footsteps and works as a union organizer. But there is one large Easter egg to look out for: the Votes for Women sash that Winnifred wore and which later became the tail of the Banks family kite is still in pristine condition when her grandchildren take the kite out Rotation.
Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda dance with penguins in Mary Poppins Returns.
(© Disney Enterprises)
2. Dance of the penguins
The penguins who shared a wonderful moment with Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews during “Jolly Holiday” have returned for a comparable number in the sequel, which was created in the same original style. “I chose this sequence in a classic 2-D hand-drawn animation from Disney,” notes director Rob Marshall, “even though it was twice as expensive and took twice as long.” Some of the artists they worked with on this daunting section were veteran Disney animators brought out of retirement specifically for this project. “We had the wonderful artist Belle worked on it,” adds Marshall. “We had the best of the best.”
3. Richard Sherman, cheerleader
If you look at the opening tracks, you’ll see the name “Richard M. Sherman” billed as a musical advisor. The savvy audience will know that Sherman and his late brother Robert co-created the score for the original Mary Poppins and countless other Disney classics. But Marshall almost wishes Sherman’s bill was “cheerleader” instead of “adviser” because he was. Marc and Scott would play the music for him and he would just say, “Yes! Go!”
In Shaiman’s underlining for the new film, there are some defining moments when you can hear a nod or two towards the Sherman brothers. They’re so deeply embedded in the movie that even the stars haven’t caught them all yet. “I heard a new one when we were making a radio,” says star Lin-Manuel Miranda. “It was on the line, ‘Mary Poppins, it’s so wonderful to see you again,’ and there are three notes to the song from the first movie where they write about the perfect nanny. You hear it the moment you they see the nanny they asked for. “
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack with a choir of lamplights in Mary Poppins Returns.
(© Jay Maidment)
4. Jack the Lamplighter and Bert the Chimney Sweep are connected in the great Disney circle.
Bert the Chimney Sweep, originally played by Dick Van Dyke, does not appear in Mary Poppins Returns – he is on a world tour. However, Miranda’s character, Jack the Lamplighter, has a strong connection with Bert. Once upon a time, at a young age, Jack was one of Bert’s apprentices who taught Jack everything he knew.
As for Van Dyke himself, the 92-year-old appears in Mary Poppins Returns when Mr. Dawes Jr., older son of senior bank owner Van Dyke, also played in the 1964 original. “When he got on set, he told me that he felt the same spirit as in the first movie,” recalls Marshall. “That was a dream come true.”
Meryl Streep returns as Topsy in Mary Poppins.
(© Jay Maidment)
5. Meryl Streep plays Ed Wynn? Kind of, but not really.
Not quite. Streep, who starred in Marshall’s adaptation of Into the Woods, was more than a play for a role in Mary Poppins Returns. “She wrote to Rob: ‘Yes, yes, yes! What did it take you so long?’ when he wrote to her, “says producer Marc Platt.
In this film, Streep plays Topsy, Mary’s eccentric Eastern European cousin who lives in a fix-it store that is often turned upside down. Audiences attuned to the original might notice some resemblance between Topsy and Uncle Albert of the first film (played by Ed Wynn), whose incessant laughter makes him soar to the ceiling.
6. Julie Andrews does not appear, but a different Disney icon.
Everyone now knows that Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar for playing Mary Poppins, won’t make a cameo in the sequel and will politely decline an appearance so as not to steal Emily Blunt’s thunder.
However, another Disney legend makes a cameo at the very end of the movie and you instantly recognize her. Angela Lansbury, who played Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, appears here in the speaking and singing role of the Balloon Lady, a character from the original PL Travers footage.
“Angela was 91 when she made this movie and it sounds great,” says Platt. “She made a little part wonderful right away and she has my favorite moment that is really the subject of the film. She says to Mary Poppins, ‘The adults will forget about it by morning,’ and Mary Poppins says, ‘They always do. ‘We thought, wouldn’t it be quite a world if none of us forgot that feeling of wonder and possibility and hope and light? “