What makes Mary Poppins Returns such a great movie, the acting, the storytelling, and most importantly the music! Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman sat down with 25 of us bloggers to chat about the process of making Mary Poppins Returns.
During the interview, I learned a few important things about the song writing. If you say the title and you don’t sing it, then it probably isn’t a Mary Poppins song. All the songwriting was done with Rob Marshall working very closely with Marc and Scott. Last, all of the songs in this movie are new songs. The songwriters didn’t want to recreate the original Mary Poppins movie, they created a new one!
Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman Interview
I know that Richard Sherman was working as a consultant with you. What was that like?
Scott: “Oh, that was heaven. I mean, that was really heaven. And then last week, we got to spend a whole day with him. And it was just like glori- we got to ask him all those questions that, you know, you’ve been old and –”
Marc: “I became four years old. I mean, there he was in front of me and I got to ask him, why’d you write this song and why was it in this key? And what was that chord? And the choices of words. And what was Walt Disney like – I don’t remember his answers. ”
Later in the interview Scott shared, “It was interesting, with Richard Sherman, because in the first movie, they had musicalized a sequence that got cut. And we tried to musicalize the same sequence. And it got cut.”
About song inspirations:
Scott: “Well, I think that we went back to the books. And there were so many more adventures in all the stories. And so some of them just cried out to be sung. And so we wanted – I think – and Lin said it great. He said, “You know what’s great about it, is our movie rhymes with the first movie.” And that’s a huge compliment, too. But just the – all the material was in the books. And then we had Emily and Lin and we had them right from the beginning. 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. ”
Marc: “‘Cause when we first sit down to write – I mean, we had a great four months of working with Rob and his partner John and the screenwriter, David Magee. Where we really start from the beginning of the movie. They had had the idea that it would be about Michael Banks, a recent widower. And that would be the crux of what’s going on. And then we just pieced the movie scene by scene. And figuring out which songs – where to put a song. And how it would speak to what was going on. Or further what was going on.”
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 a confidence of like, Well, ’cause that – it won’t. I mean, he’s just -”
Scott finished this sentence with, “and very meticulous.”
“Can you imagine that” the most challenging song to write?
Scott: “Yes, ’cause we wrote many versions of it. ”
Marc: “First we try to write songs that were more in the style of the English dance bands. Of the early ‘30s. And we thought it’d be fun if Mary Poppins had a touch of current sound work, for the ‘30s. And it’s like, Hey, I know what the kids are doing. And I’m gonna sing a song in a style that will show that I’m aware, and make the kids maybe be a more interested…”
Both gentleman shared about working with different vocal abilities of the actors. Choosing the first song of the movie, and more about what was happening in London at the time.
Mary Poppins Returns is NOW playing in theaters!
In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.