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Fall Arts Preview | OUT OF TOWN

A nanny stages a comeback

September 19, 2004|Don Shirley

Producer Cameron Mackintosh ruled musical theater in the '80s with "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables," and Disney became the dominant power of the '90s with "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King."

As for the 2000s, before we award the title to Mel Brooks, take note: Mackintosh and Disney are joining forces for a stage version of "Mary Poppins."

MacDisney, or Disintosh, is revamping the 1964 Disney screen version of the P.L. Travers tale. Some of the original Sherman brothers songs remain, but new songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have been added. They're a British team best known for "Honk!," a musical adaptation of the "Ugly Duckling" story that beat "The Lion King" for an Olivier Award.

Julian Fellowes, known for his screenplay of "Gosford Park," wrote the new "Poppins." Richard Eyre, former artistic director of the Royal National Theatre, is staging it. Co-direction and choreography are by Matthew Bourne of "Swan Lake" and "The Car Man" fame.

With all those heavyweights behind the scenes, perhaps it wasn't necessary to hire superstars for the Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke roles. Laura Michelle Kelly, a veteran of "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway and "My Fair Lady" in London, will assume the title role of the famous nanny. Gavin Lee will fill Van Dyke's dancing shoes.

It opens Dec. 15 in London.

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