Thursday, October 19, 2006

Two countries separated by a common language, part LXVI.

Apparently, parts of the Mary Poppins musical that is such a hit here in London are too scary in New York... even in a new lightened up version. Michael Riedel reports:
"Mary Poppins" played its first preview Saturday night and is, by all accounts, more child-friendly here than it is in London.

But there 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. ...

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.
Producer Cameron Macintosh is insisting the scene stay in, however:
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."
I hope we haven't got to the point where there can't be any scary scenes in kid's entertainment. What's Wizard of Oz without those terrifying flying monkey? On the other hand, I do still have nightmares about the Jabberwocky thanks to a TV version of Through the Looking Glass I saw as a kid... Of course, I still have nightmares about the Gorgs, too. I'm a bit of a wuss. [H/t to Playgoer.]

P.S. Speaking of the Gorgs, did you know that poet bpNichol was a writer on Fraggle Rock? That blows my mind.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I saw the play in London with my daughter in July. It is hard to imagine this scene giving offense given Americans' propensity for horror and violence in film.

Maybe creating a little controversy is part of their marketing strategy since I thought the play, though well done, was rather lame. We both, though, immensely enjoyed We Will Rock You. That one is definitely not for kids.