“Goodbye, Mary Poppins. Don’t stay away too long.”
It took more than half a century, but Bert’s farewell request at the end of the beloved 1964 movie is finally coming to fruition. On December 19, the world’s most famous nanny is back in Mary Poppins Returns. Based on a series of books by British author P. L. Travers, the sequel stars Emily Blunt in the role Julie Andrews made famous—once again floating down from the sky to “look after the Banks children.”
While the movies are based in London, fans can nevertheless enjoy a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Mary Poppins experience in New York City. The film has strong ties to the five boroughs—not least in that the 2018 version stars Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. For more details, read on.
Some of the cast and crew of the Mary Poppins films cut their teeth in New York City theater. Before she made cleaning a kid’s room fun, Julie Andrews took Broadway by storm—receiving Tony nominations for playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Guenevere in Camelot. The classic songs in the original film, including the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” came from NYC natives Richard and Robert Sherman, sons of Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman. Dick Van Dyke, who appears in both movies, won a 1961 Tony as the leading man in Bye Bye Birdie. A musical adaptation of Mary Poppins made it to Broadway in 2006, with a few new songs in tow; it ran for seven years at the New Amsterdam Theatre (current home of Aladdin).
Mary Poppins Returns is directed by Rob Marshall, who began as a dancer in Cats before becoming a choreographer whose shows included Victor/Victoria (starring a tango-dancing Julie Andrews). The music was composed by Hairspray veteran Marc Shaiman, and, as mentioned, the film stars Broadway’s favorite 21st-century son Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, a former apprentice to Bert who now lights the gas lamps about town.
Mary Poppins diehards should visit the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, which has all sorts of relevant materials including DVDs, CDs, scores for stage and screen, clippings, scripts, lobby cards, photos and more Sherman brothers music. It’s all available to anyone with a library card. Mary Poppins Returns will play all around the City, and the original is popping up at Pace University on February 10, 2019, with games, prizes and an appearance by Mary herself (an impersonator, we presume). The festivities kick off at 3pm.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite
If you want to follow Bert’s advice for outdoor recreation, take a trip to Rudy’s Hobby Shop in Astoria, Queens. The store has been in business for 60 years; you’ll find model planes, trains, automobiles and, most important, kites—some 20 varieties. Once you’ve got one, head for Central Park and reach for the highest heights.
The winter isn’t exactly picnic weather, but the penguins still have to dance (and eat). Central Park Zoo holds feedings at 10:30am and 2:30pm. The gentoo, chinstrap and king penguins all come out for their fish. Feel free to tap and waddle alongside the glorious birds, red-and-white-stripe coat not required.
A Spoonful of Sugar
Like the song says, the “Perfect Nanny” takes kids on outings and brings them treats. There are plenty of options for Anglophilic eaters. Start in the West Village at Myers of Keswick, a British grocery store with meat pies, pasties, Scotch eggs, sausages, mushy peas and all manner of marmalades. They also sell ample treats to sneak into the movie, like Curlywurlys, Toffee Crisp and the thematically appropriate Penguin cookies. From there, it’s a short walk to Tea & Sympathy, where guests can enjoy a spot of Earl Grey or a Boddington’s before hiring out the restaurant’s official London cab (4-hour minimum) and being driven around in style.
For a feast that the bankers at Fidelity Fiduciary would love, head to Jones Wood Foundry. The Upper East Side pub offers classics like lamb shepherd’s pie and seasonal dishes such as Griggstown pheasant. Jones also has a selection of fresh British “fizz” (aka UK bubbly) and a kid’s brunch menu that starts at $8 to hook them on bangers and mash early. Finish with sticky toffee pudding—whatever it takes to help the medicine go down.