Lin-Manuel Miranda lights up Mary Poppins Returns and we are ALL here for it! Lin-Manuel stars in Mary Poppins Returns as Jack the Lamplighter or “Leery” as they call themselves. We’ve all heard of his lyrical genius from The Heights and Hamilton, so we discussed working with songs and lyrics that were arranged for him. It was such a pleasure to be there for the unforgettable interview with myself and 24 fellow bloggers. Many thanks to Disney for this opportunity, all opinions expressed are my own. Now let’s get to the good stuff with Lin-Manuel Miranda!
The Magic of Mary Poppins
You know walking into Mary Poppins Returns, you are in for a magical adventure.
“The biggest note Rob Marshall gave me is that all the other grownups forget what it’s like to be a child except for Jack. So my biggest research was watching my son play in Princess Di park in Kensington Park in London, watching his boundless imagination.
We are all born with that. I think we’re all, that’s inherent in us until life does what it does. That was my secret weapon in finding Jack was I had a two-year-old research assistant who kept me childlike and kept me in that mode.”
A Movie Musical and Broadway
We were very interested to hear what the transition was like for Lin-Manuel. Here’s what he shared with us:
“You finish the eight minute dance number and you wait a year and a half for applause. But honestly, you’re trying to tell the truth on stage and you’re trying to tell the truth in film. The difference is the energy source. Doing eight shows a week is a yoga. You’re gonna hit the same positions every night but you’re gonna hit ’em differently depending on your energy, the audience, you’re fellow performers. And you have two the next day.”
“The energy source in making a film is, especially a film like this, today you’re dancing with penguins. Tomorrow you’re singing with Meryl Streep. Friday you’re shutting down Buckingham Palace with 800 bikers. And you’re not coming back. We’re not going back to the penguins next week. You don’t get two shows a day with Meryl Streep tomorrow. So the adrenaline source becomes this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and you have to be completely present. And so it just shifts from the audience to the sheer one-of-a-kindness of it.”
He told us in detail how Director Rob Marshall ran one song performance in particular for “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”
“Then there are moments that represent hours and hours of hard work from the eight minute, continuous dance sequence in Trip A Little Light Fantastic, and Rob ran it as an eight minute dance sequence. There were sort of the three minutes of the song that are getting to that abandoned playground, that was on location throughout London.
And now we’re here, and now we’re in the sewer, and now we’re here.
That sequence was run as if it was a Broadway musical number. From jumping on the lamppost to the flaming sticks balancing on my foot, that was all run of a piece with hundreds of cameras around. And I’m very proud of that. I’ve never danced like that in my life.”
When you see the film now, you’ll appreciate that scene even more! It’s fantastic!!
Oh you know we asked about the Cockney accent he had to learn. If you are a fan of the original you know Dick Van Dyke got all kinds of hell about his not-so awesome accent when he played Bert the chimney sweep. So his response was pretty good, here’s what he said as he even noted his dialect coach Sandra Butterworth.
“Music is my catalyst for everything. She realized that music was my way in. So it was not just listening to music sung in the east end Cockney accent, it was music in the 1930s. Because it’s not just about the part of the world, it’s about the time of the world. It’s about the when as well.
So I listened to a lot of Anthony Newley, who was a big sort of music hall star who then also wrote a Broadway musical called Stop the World, I Want To Get Off in the 1960s. I listened to a lot of his early stuff and that was my sort of north star for the accent.”
It was such a treat to be a part of this press junket. Lin-Manuel Miranda is truly an orgullo Latino and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to be witness to his first live action film with Disney.
Mary Poppins Returns releases into theaters everywhere December 19th.