Whenever you adapt a story from one medium to another, there are going to be changes. In the cast of Mary Poppins, taking the story in the original book to the silver screen and to the stage has resulted in too many changes to count!
A student dramaturg for a different production (Andrew Koenig) made the following chart to reveal some of the changes that have happened to the central characters. I’ve added a fourth column (BYU production) in hopes that you will think about the differences you see on our stage. After you’ve seen the show, I hope that you will come back and leave your insights in the comments below.
|Creator||P.L. Travers||Screenplay by Bill Walsh
& Don DaGradi
Composition by the Sherman Brothers Directed by Robert Stevenson
|Script by Julian Fellowes Music by The Sherman Brothers and George Stiles Directed by Richard Eyre||Based on Disney Musical. Directed by George D. Nelson. Musical Direction by Gayle Lockwood. Choreographed by Becky Phillips and Jenny Tingey Giauque|
|Mary||Mary is very vain and strict. She frequently stops to stare at her reflection in shop windows.||Mary Poppins is firm but kind, she disciplines the children but always maintains a certain warmth in her character.||Mary is a quirky blend of fun, aloof and mysterious. She is on a mission to bring the Banks family together.||Performed by Cassie Austin and Sariah Hopkin|
|Bert||Bert is a minor character, appearing in only a few chapters as a chalk artist and a Matchman (match salesman) but not a sweep.||Bert is Mary Poppins long time friend and something of a sidekick. He is an artist and a chimney sweep||Bert helps to open the eyes of the children to a social class outside their own and “sweeps” them up in Mary’s adventures||Performed by Caleb Jensen|
|Mr. Banks||Mr. Banks rarely makes an appearance. He shows up every now and then, frustrated by the children or terrified of Miss Andrew.||Mr. Banks cares for his family but is distant from them, focusing instead on his job||Mr. Banks is distant from his family because of the distance he felt from his own parents and the discipline he suffered under Miss Andrew.||Performed by Nick Summers|
|Mrs. Banks||Mrs. Banks is concerned with the duties of being a housewife in the early 1900’s, hosting parties and generally aiding Mr. Banks.||Mrs. Banks is a suffragette fighting for women’s rights while still gently loving her husband and caring very much for her family.||Mrs. Banks is an aspiring, yet unsuccessful actress who is struggling to discover what it means to be a good wife for her husband and mother for her children.||Performed by Carolyn Keller|
|The Banks Children||There are five Banks children, Jane is the oldest, followed by Michael and then their twin siblings, John and Barbara, and finally the youngest, Annabel.||Jane and Michael are the only two Banks children. They are troublemakers, but the behavior stems from a desire to connect to their father||Jane and Michael are the Banks children. They have many preconceived ideas about how the world works that are not necessarily true.||Performed by Elise Jones and Connor Phillips|
|Miss Andrew||Miss Andrew is Mr. Banks old nanny who is hired after Mary Poppins leaves. Mary Poppins returns and locks her in a bird cage.||Miss Andrew does not make an appearance in the film||Miss Andrew is the anti-Mary Poppins. She is a dictator who is partially responsible for the emotionally distant man that Mr. Banks has become.||Performed by Alana Jeffery|
Want to learn even more about the history of the theatrical production? Here is a wonderful (and short) clip from Disney Mary Poppins’ educational series: From Literary Inspiration to the Silver Screen.