Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns is very much a love-letter to its 1964 predecessor, weaving a wonderful new story with the wonderful familiar world and characters. There are many fun and smart connections made between the two features, both stylistically and narratively, and even though they are made decades apart they still feel of a piece. Obviously 99% of that is extremely purposeful and intentional, but the sequel also has a fantastic accidental link to the first movie as well – specifically through a musical sequence that both films attempted, but ultimately decided not to use.
Last week I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Rob Marshall to discuss his work on Mary Poppins Returns for the film’s home video press day, and during the interview talked about one song that was developed for the feature but not used: “The Anthropomorphic Zoo.” As the director explained, it was initially going to be a part of the extended journey taken by Mary (Emily Blunt), Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson), but was cut back when the sequence became too long:
Obviously this kind of thing happens all the time, as every movie in history has at least one potentially great cut sequence that just didn’t work as part of the finished product. What makes this case special, however, is that apparently an almost identical decision was made in the making of the original Mary Poppins.