“Oh, it’s a jolly holiday with Mary! Mary makes your world so light! When the day is gray and ordinary, Mary makes the sun shine bright!”
It was a cloudy day in the big apple, but I felt the warmth of a thousand suns. Being a lover of the theatre and Disney, I entered New Amsterdam Theatre ready for what I heard was a “practically perfect” musical- Mary Poppins. A sense of enthusiasm overtook my body. I felt as if I was in the presence of greatness, standing in a temple where the musical genius of the Sherman brothers resounds daily, where the perseverance of Walt Disney is admired decades later, where the breathtaking smile of Julie Andrews radiates into the soul of every audience member. I was reminded of Walt’s words, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something, than educate people and hope they were entertained.” Would this show be one of simple pleasure or profound knowledge? After only a few songs, the answer quickly arose within my heart.
Mary Poppins spoke to me with many timeless themes, that of which I was lucky enough to witness and receive. My first lesson came through the stubbornness of the children, too unwilling to see Bert’s colorful interpretation of their dull park as reality. (Unfortunately, my hometown isn’t too inspiring, either.) In “Jolly Holiday,” as Bert transformed the park into what his heart saw, rather than his brain, I learned that all it takes is a less conventional perspective, and “something as plain as a park becomes a wonderland!”
We live in a world where working is nearly inevitable, whether it is at a job, at school, or household chores. Mary reminds us in “A Spoonful of Sugar” that “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun! You find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game!” The only thing keeping us between a dead-end task and pure joy is a positive outlook. Finding a positive in daunting situations can be quite difficult at times, but once we do, the rest will come like pure magic, “in the most delightful way.”
One of Walt Disney’s favorite tunes portrays the largest message in the show. “Feed the Birds” is a beautifully constructed metaphor saying that parents must care for their children, for that is what they desire most. It doesn’t take much, the bird woman reminds us, and “you’ll be glad if you do.” Children are the greatest natural resource on this earth, and the easiest way to unlock it is through the love we give them.
My favorite song of the show is “Anything Can Happen.” Every lyric is purely inspirational. We’re told, “Dreams are made of strong elastic!” I’ve noticed that too many people in this day and age are far too quick to let go of their dreams. Dreams don’t ever have to die. They may take a hit every now and then, but dreams are stronger than one might think. In my short lifetime, I’ve seen that they are indeed quite flexible- far more flexible than I could ever be.
While chasing your dreams, “broaden your horizon, open different doors! You may find a you there that you never knew was your’s!” As I continue to grow in this ever-changing world, I’ve learned that we must go on our journeys together. Dream chasing often succeeds when it’s a team effort. One of my really good friends, Josh, who is wise beyond his years (although he’d never admit that), told me, “We must use others as mirrors for our identity and self-knowledge… We can utilize the perceptions of others to learn more about ourselves, if we possess the mental faculty, insight, and imagination to do so.” Finding a new you through someone else’s window is just a part of Mary’s lesson: Anything can happen if you let it.
The epic ending of this song blew me away. The stage lit up as bright as Mary’s smile. It transformed into the “heavens” itself- a remarkable stage transition. Mary and the cast repeated, “If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars, but we’ve found a whole new spin! If you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in!” Never settle for something less than what you dream of. Without dreams, there is no life. With settling for less than your dreams, there is no purpose. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the highest goals; they can come true (if you let it).
“A man should never neglect his family for business,” preached Walt Disney. This philosophy is ever-present in the Mary Poppins tale, however, the show stands not just as a moral for busy parents. Mary Poppins is laced with themes that everyone can learn from. I left the theater not simply with a grin on my face and tears in my eyes, but a smile in my heart. That itself was worth the price of admission.
Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust,
“Go and chase your dreams; you won’t regret it! Anything can happen if you let it!”