The Playgoer: Mary Poppins: Too Edgy???

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mary Poppins: Too Edgy???

Michael Riedel reports today on what appears to be the confrontational show on Broadway!

...[T]here is one production number, a holdover from London, that's still scaring the kids and baffling their parents. Called "Temper, Temper," it occurs just before the end of the first act. Mary Poppins has temporarily deserted her petulant charges, Jane and Michael Banks, leaving them alone in their nursery. Suddenly, a sinister red hand pokes out from the window of a doll house. A gigantic, evil-looking rag doll then emerges from the doll house, ready to exact revenge on Jane and Michael for abusing their toys. Soon all of the toys, looking as if they were designed by zombie horror movie-maker George Romero and acting like graduates of the John Wayne Gacy School of Clowning, come to life. Jane and Michael are put on trial and condemned for their sins against the toys.

On Saturday night, one little girl in the audience was so frightened, she crawled into her mother's lap. Another mother put her arm around her daughter and asked: "Are you all right?" The audience seemed a bit stunned by the number, unable to adjust to the sudden change in the tone of the show. The reaction was the same at the Sunday matinee, production sources say.

Ticket brokers and group sales agents, who are driving a lot of the show's business right now, aren't pleased. The last thing they want is word that "Mary Poppins" is scaring kids. Cast members, too, think the "Temper, Temper" number should go, grumbling that they can tell from the stage it's making the audience uncomfortable.

Welcome to Times Square in the Age of Disney, Cameron Mackintosh!

Happily, though, Sir Cameron is sticking to his guns:
...[S]ources say "Temper, Temper" won't be cut - for contractual reasons. Years ago, Mackintosh secured the rights to "Mary Poppins" from author P.L. Travers by promising her that the stage production would be closer in tone to her books than the the saccharin Disney film. He also promised to use characters and incidents from the books that were not in the movie.

The concept of "Temper, Temper," one production source says, is "deeply rooted" in the producer's commitment to P.L Travers and her estate." He also believes the number serves an important dramatic function.

Says a production source: "He likes it. So it stays. Period."

Good for him. Let's scare those kiddies silly. Or is the parents (you know the ones shelling out $100) that are the scaredy cats...

And here we were debating if "Rachel Corrie" was too hot for New York...


June said...

It sounds like the bad language (which even a potty mouth like me thought was a bit much) in BILLY ELLIOT isn't going to make it to Broadway!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the song, but I suppose I like things which don't really stick to their original counterparts. I thought it was fabulous and chilling; maybe a bit over the top for younger children though.

Cody said...

I think that the number is perfectly fine and that they should keep it. Most of Mary Poppins is happy and so the number perfectly balanced it out. Yes it is scary but I think that is a great number and it should stay.