Having the opportunity to meet the team behind the Mary Poppins Returns songs was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Songwriters Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman paired up to create a magical lineup of music that pays homage to the original while building up the library of Disney songs you’ll be singing for years to come.
Want to know more about the process and how they brought the new music to life? I’ve got some of the highlights of our interview with the songwriting team. Thanks to Disney for providing me with a trip to LA to cover the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent in exchange for sharing.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS SONGS
To get yourself ready for the magic that is the music of Mary Poppins Returns, check out the song list below. I love the titles of the songs! They just feel like they’re going to be full of wonder, magic, and emotions.
- (Underneath the) Lovely London Sky – Lin-Manuel Miranda
- A Conversation – Ben Whishaw
- Can You Imagine That? – Emily Blunt with Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
- The Royal Doulton Music Hall – Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
- Introducing Mary Poppins – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt
- A Cover Is Not the Book – Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Company
- The Place Where Lost Things Go – Emily Blunt
- Turning Turtle – Meryl Streep with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
- Trip a Little Light Fantastic – Lin-Manuel Miranda with Emily Blunt, Tarik Frimpong, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Leeries
- The Place Where Lost Things Go (Reprise) – Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Pixie Davies
- Trip a Little Light Fantastic (Reprise) – Dick Van Dyke with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
- Nowhere to Go But Up – Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters and Company
- (Underneath the) Lovely London Sky (Reprise) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Theme from Mary Poppins Returns
- Kite Takes Off
- Mary Poppins Arrives
- Magic Papers
- Banks in the Bank
- Into the Royal Doulton Bowl
- Rescuing Georgie
- Off to Topsy’s
- Chase Through the Bank
- Lost in a Fog
- Goodbye Old Friend
- Race to Big Ben
- End Title Suite
The coolest thing is that Marc Shaiman not only wrote the music for the songs, he also did the original score! Together with Scott Wittman, they created the amazing lyrics so Marc Shaiman has his hand in all of the music for the new film.
Have no fears, it was in very safe hands! Richard Sherman consulted with Marc and Scott which had to be an amazing experience!
Marc confessed to us that he became his 4-year-old self. He got to ask Richard Sherman all of the questions he had. “I don’t remember his answers.”
Scott said, “The glorious part is that he loved our movie so much. A baton has been passed.”
To which Marc added, “I got up in his (Richard Sherman) face to see if he had a tell. But he seemed sincere.”
Yes, these two were a blast to interview. They had us laughing the entire time.
STAYING TRUE TO THE ORIGINAL WHILE FINDING INSPIRATION
They went back to the books and there are so many adventures in those stories. Some just cried out to be sung. They shared a great thing Lin Manuel-Miranda said to them. He told them that the new movie rhymes with the first movie.
They also have Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”) and Lin-Manuel Miranda “Jack the Lamplighter”) to work with from the very beginning so they were able to use them for inspiration and mold the music on them.
It’s the first time Mary Poppins has sung on screen in 54 years — no pressure.
Before the sat down to write the songs, they met with Director RobMarshall to talk through each scene. They figured out where the songs should go so they would further the story.
Marc explained it very simply, “We knew we had to write so it sounded like it was in the same neighborhood as the first.” So they said they couldn’t help but find themselves in the Mary Poppins vernacular.
HOW MARY POPPINS RETURNS WAS DIFFERENT FROM THEIR OTHER WORK
My favorite thing about all of the interviews we did during the #MaryPoppinsReturnsEvent was that everyone talked about how amazing it was to work under Rob Marshall. The same was true for this incredible songwriting team!
Scott called it a dream. He explained that Rob Marshall is such a person of the theater and they come from the theater. It was like working on a Broadway musical.
With my background in musical theater, I completely understood what he was talking about. I bet it was incredible to work on a film set that felt like you were putting together a live production.
Marc shared a bit more insight with us. “Rob is singular in his vision. It gives you a confidence.”
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE MARY POPPINS RETURNS SONGS
- Marc and Scott would do phrase association with each other for days to brainstorm ideas. Then Marc would take it to the piano and try to make it work. Since he also scores films he knew that the melodies they wrote had to have the potential to work as the score too.
- Originally there was talk of not having any music in the movie until Mary Poppins arrives with her magic. But Jack still believes so even though he’s not magic, they worked on trying to write a song for him.
- “A Conversation” was written very specifically for Ben Whishaw (“Michael Banks”) after he came to sing for them while he was in consideration for the role. He’d never sung before and he sang “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song was the first one they wrote.
- “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” wasn’t the only version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song. They wrote a second song, then a third song, and suddenly they had five songs written. When Emily Blunt heard the last one, she went to Rob Marshall and told him that the first song is the one that had to go in the movie. She said it was the one that inspired here. Lin-Manuel also loved the first version of the son.
- Songwriting is like juggling. They had to write to the singer’s ability (some cast members had never sung before!), write to the feeling of the film, the wants, and needs of the director, and to their own tastes. Talk about juggling! It sounds just like what we do as busy moms!
THE DREAM JOB
Working on Mary Poppins Returns was their dream job.
So we asked them, what’s the next dream?
Marc Shaiman had an easy answer. “The next sequel?”
I sure hope there’s another addition to the world of Mary Poppins but for now, I’m looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins Returns with my family!
Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters on December 19th! Be sure to mark your calendars! What a fun film to catch with the family during the holiday season!
FOLLOW MARY POPPINS RETURNS
- https://twitter.com/disneystudios (#MaryPoppinsReturns)
MORE MARY POPPINS RETURNS
- Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review
- Mary Poppins Returns Premiere Experience
- Emily Blunt Mary Poppins Interview
- Lin-Manuel Miranda Mary Poppins Interview
- Ben Whishaw & Emily Mortimer Mary Poppins Interview
- Mary Poppins Returns Director Rob Marshall
- Interview with Pixie Davies & Joel Dawson (The New Banks Children)