2012 is already shaping up to be a banner year for the Disney
Theatrical Group. What with the upcoming limited Broadway engagement for "Newsies."
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
On the heels of its highly acclaimed pilot production at the
Paper Mill Playhouse earlier this year, "Newsies" will be presented at the
Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street March 15th - June
10, 2012. And given that there seem to be thousands of fans of this 1992 Walt Disney Pictures release
who are anxious to see what the Broadway version of
this movie musical will be like ... Well, if you're planning on snagging some
tickets to "Newsies," you'd better do it as soon as they go on sale. Which is January
30th at 10 a.m.
Mind you, "Newsies" isn't the only new show that the Mouse had a hand in which will be coming to Broadway in 2012. Following its sold-out off-Broadway
run earlier this year at the New York Theatre Workshop, "Peter and the
Starcatcher" (which Disney Theatrical Productions developed from Dave Barry and
Ridley Pearson's popular children's novel) will be flying back into the Big
Apple next year. Produced by Nancy Nagel Gibbs and Greg Schaffert, this Peter Pan prequel will be presented at some
The Broadway company of "Disney's
The Lion King" gathers onstage at the MinskoffTheatre to celebrate this show's
14th anniversary. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights
But before we say "Goodbye" to 2011 and "Hello" to 2012, it's
worth noting here that Disney Theatrical Group's other shows also celebrated
some significant milestones over the past year. What with the Tony
Award-winning musical, "Disney's The Lion King" celebrating the 14th
anniversary of its opening on Broadway November 13th.
And just down the street from the Minskoff, Disney and
Cameron Mackintosh's "Mary Poppins" actually blew past two significant
milestones of its own in the past four months. On September 4th, this show
presented its 2000th performance on Broadway. And on November 16th, "Mary Poppins"
celebrated the fifth anniversary of its opening in NYC.
The cast of "Mary
Poppins" gets ready to cut the cake commemorating this musical's 2000th
performance on Broadway. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And - of course - Mickey's merry marketeers took advantage of
these two milestones to then get the Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" some
additional publicity. There were the NYC-specific stunts like turning the
Empire State Building Mary-Poppins-Blue ...
... on November 15th to commemorate this Disney and
Cameron Mackintosh show's 5th anniversary on Broadway. Not to
mention having Mary herself appear on video screens inside of cabs driving all over
the city during Xmas ...
... to wish New Yorkers & tourists alike a Jolly Holiday.
And to make sure that people were aware on a national level
that "Mary Poppins" was observing the 5th anniversary on the opening
of this Broadway musical, the Disney Theatrical Group reached out to its corporate
partners over at ABC. Who then arranged to have "Good Morning America" special
correspondent Cameron Mathison come by the New Amsterdam Theatre. Where - as part
of the debut of his new entertainment news segment, "Cam's Cam-eo," -
Mathison was made up to look like a chimney sweep and then sent out onstage to dance
& sing in that performance of "Step In Time."
(L to R) Case Dillard
[Bert at that evening's performance], "All My Children" star Susan Lucci,
Steffanie Leigh [Mary Poppins] and Cameron Mathison. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And Cameron wasn't the only ABC star to cameo in "Mary
Poppins" over the past two months. Meredith Vieira also did a stint as a sweep
before she then invited Steffanie Leigh & Gavin Lee to come appear on "Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire." Where these two Broadway stars then won over
$20,000 for the Actor's Fund.
Steffanie Leigh, Gavin
Lee and Meredith Vieira on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Copyright American
Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
But there's more to keeping a long-running show like "Mary
Poppins" popular with the ticket-buying public than just clever publicity
stunts. Given that the Disney Theatrical Group now has three different
productions (i.e. The Broadway company, the North American tour [which
continues at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre through January 8th
before then moving on to Mexico City] and the Australian production [which
opens at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane this Friday]) ... Well, it's important
that each of these versions of "Mary Poppins" maintain the same level of high
quality that theatre goers typically associate with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh
Which is where Anthony Lyn comes in. As the "Mary Poppins"
tour director as well as being the current director of the long-running
Broadway version of this show ... Lyn probably wishes that he could borrow Mary's
umbrella as he regularly travels the world. Making sure that each and every
production of this Disney and Cameron Mackintosh musical stays (forgive the
Pillsbury-related joke here) Poppin' Fresh.
"Given that we have multiple sets of child performers in this
show playing the roles of Jane and Michael ... Well, it's understandable that we
regularly have to make changes to the cast of 'Mary Poppins,' " Lyn explained. "But
what's great about working for Disney and Cameron Mackintosh is that they're
honestly not interested in maintaining the status quo with a long-running show
like this. These are two companies that actively go out of their ways to find
new ways to make their shows better."
In the case of "Poppins," this wasn't just something that
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh did as "Mary Poppins" was being readied for its transfer
from the West End to Broadway. No, Anthony insists that - with each new
production of this musical - they've made tweaks & changes that then tightened
this show, making it an overall better evening of theater.
"Take - for example - the 'Jolly Holiday' number. This was
already a showstopper in the version of "Mary Poppins' that we mounted back in the UK. But Richard Eyre thought that we could make 'Jolly Holiday' even more
of a crowd pleaser for the New York production." Lyn continued. "And since
Disney and Cameron completely supported Richard with this decision, that's just
what we did. We totally reconcieved that number with new sets & new
costumes. And based on the way that the Broadway audiences reacted, that change
was totally worth the extra effort and expense."
Which would have been enough for a normal set of theatrical
producers. But Disney and Cameron Mackintosh aren't normal theatrical
producers. So when the North American tour of "Mary Poppins" was being put
together, with Anthony's help, they made even more tweaks to this show. Continuing
to plus "Jolly Holiday" as well as giving Mary a brand-new number, "Playing the
Game," to perform in the first act in place of the somewhat
problematic "Temper Temper."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All
"And given how well these changes went over with the audiences
who caught the North American tour ... Well, we knew that we then had to incorporate
these changes into the Broadway version of 'Mary Poppins.' So that the people
who were seeing this musical in NYC were then getting the very best version of this
show," Lyn said. "And we're still continuing this tradition of plussing 'Poppins.'
There are changes that we made for the Australian production
that we've since
folded into the Broadway version. It just goes on & on & on."
So if you thought that the Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" was
practically perfect the last time that you saw it, now might be an excellent
time to circle back on the New Amsterdam Theatre and see the many ways - both big
& small - that Lyn & his team have plussed this musical over the past
five years, as they make sure that the "Mary" which NYC audiences get to see is
always as Poppin' Fresh as she can possibly be.
So how many of you out there saw the original Broadway
version of "Mary Poppins" (or - better yet - the West End production) & has
since seen the North American touring company and/or the Australian version of
this show? If so, what do you think of the changes that have been made to this
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh production? Is there something that you now miss
that was taken out of this musical? Or is there a change that has been made to
this show which you now think significantly improves "Poppins" ?
And as Mary points out in the above photo, the holiday
season is drawing to a close, folks. And if you'd like to demonstrate how much
you've enjoyed the past year's worth of stories, feel free to toss a few
tuppences into JHM's new tip jar.
Nice!!! I catched the North American Tour in San Diego last August and thought it was truly amazing :). I knew Poppins was going to be in Mexico City next year, however I did not know it was going to be the North American Tour... does that mean it will be presented in English?...
Yes Gerardo, the play will be presented in English. And supposedly, Morris Gilbert wants to bring it, with Ocesa Theatre, late next year... (Morris confirmed this almost a year ago).
Nice! Thanks for the info Alex :)