by Ting Chun Chang, dramaturg
Mary Poppins snapped her fingers again, ready to “educate” the kids! In the world of Mary Poppins we see magic everywhere, However, how to show that magic is a crucial key for the design team. As it is the number one topic we have been talking about in the production meetings, before the show starts, I would like to give a you broad sense of how each designer has chosen to dive into this magic world.
At the beginning of the process, we created a magic moment list. This was a guide for the production team. We talked about the magical moments in other productions, movies and how these moments were done. In the meantime, the designers figured out who would be in charge of each moment. For example, we choose to let our projection effects designer, Ben Unguren, explore some images that could be done through projector, such as the instantaneous changes in the nursery and creating the colors in the park.
Costume designer, Rory Scanlon analyzed the relationship between the characters in the family and the relationship between Mary and Mr. Banks and Mary and Bert, and then looked for symbolic ways to reveal things about Mary’s character. For example, for him, Mary is the one who bring joy and light to the family. When you watch the show, see if you can you tell how that is shown through the costuming.
Props are one of the most important element to show the magic in Mary Poppins. Taylor Robinson and Bradlee Hager found some inspirations from Pinterest and was able to support the descriptions in the script as well as the work of other designers. The picture you saw here is the original draw/thoughts for kitchen scene by Bradlee. She was trying to figure out how to present the magic moment when Mary Poppins uses her magic to clean the kitchen. Another important prop is the kite. While I will expand the idea of the kite and why we choose it in the future blog, for now, I would say that Bert uses the kite to describe how the family is “raveling undone” and shares how it reveals the secret of the role of Mary Poppins.
Choreographers Becky Wright Phillips and Jenny Giauque-Tingey collaborate with the performers and use with their strengths to design the dance numbers. I personally enjoy the conversation with Becky and Jenny a lot. In fact, the very first time I watched a run through of the show, I was astonished by the brilliant ideas of putting the different styles together. As Mary Poppins is a very rich and interesting musical, I truly believe that it has a room for many different dancing styles. One of my favorite moments is the “love” scene when Mrs. Banks thinks about her relationship with Mr. Banks in the past. Becky described that she felt right to put a modern duet dance there to strengthen the message of the song and to stress the relationship between Mrs. Banks and Mr. Banks.
From the imagination of the designing team to the imaginations we hope the audience will bring, we hope you will find Mary Poppins‘ magic will be everywhere in the show.