IF YOU GO
What: Musical based on the beloved 1964 Julie Andrews film
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 15-20)
Where: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 Edison Parkway, Fort Myers
Cost: $80, $65, $55, $45
Information: Call 481-4849 or go to bbmannpah.com
Something Else: Parking is sometimes chaotic because of evening classes at Edison College. Park farther out and escape the after-show traffic jams.
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
FORT MYERS — Hands up if you can spell "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" without resorting to the Internet.
Didn't everyone wish for a nanny like Mary Poppins to blow in with the wind, pull a host of miracles out of her bag and introduce untold adventures? Of course we did!
"It's hard to find anyone who wasn't a fan of 'Mary Poppins,'" Anthony Lyn, director of the national tour of "Mary Poppins," said. "It is part of the DNA of our lives."
Reached on his cell phone on a busy Thursday afternoon before he headed off to rehearsal, Lyn talked to the Daily News for the better part of an hour. He offered up tidbits of "Mary Poppins" history (author P.L. Travers hated this film), Walt Disney's favorite song ("Feed the Birds") and more. He also dropped hints of where audiences can for tiny shout-outs, like a cameo appearance by a penguin in "Jolly Holiday."
Lyn also ran down the show's success on the international stage (eight years and counting) - and how the Mexican production differs from the London and American versions. "They spell 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' different," Lyn said. "There's an '-io' on the end."
Still, the show that rolls into Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers on Jan. 15 will be just as wonderful, just as magical and just as thrilling as the Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke original.
"What you do is try and stay faithful to what the audience knows," Lyn said. "You don't try to compete."
The stage version of "Mary Poppins" features a more "fleshed-out" storyline that draws in equal parts from the film and the P.L. Travers books. Songs like "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Feed the Birds" remain, although several of the scenes have been re-imagined or reinterpreted.
"You get everything you had in the film and more," Lyn said.
Lyn is especially proud of the magical touches, whimsical embellishments and fantastic events that will delight crowds.
Characters walk up the side wall of the stage and tap dance upside down on proscenium arch. That magical bag that Mary Poppins carries, it is still there - and as capacious as ever.
The show contacted David Copperfield collaborator Jim Steinmeyer, a designer of magical illusions and theatrical special effects. "He said 'give me a list,'" Lyn recalls. The beautiful chalk drawing sequence sees Bert pull a bouquet of flowers right out of a stage floor, while Mary yanks hatstands and all manner of furniture out of her bag.
Lyn also praises the Disney-influenced sets that "look like a million dollars."
"The show looks absolutely sumptuous," he said. "This is a great, traditional, old-fashioned musical."
One thing audiences may find different is that the show focuses less on the "magical nanny and her adventures" and on the Banks family. George Banks has a larger role, Jane and Michael have more rambunctious personalities and the family itself seems in crisis. Lyn calls the show "remarkably topical" and "unexpectedly moving."
When asked what he hopes audiences take from the show, Lyn paused, then said that he wants everyone attending the show to be "moved by the story" and for parents watching to ask "do I have my life in balance?"
He paused again, then added "I hope they are thoroughly entertained!"