Mary Poppins Monday: Did You Know?

Elizabeth DeRose (Mary Poppins) and Brian Letendre (Bert). Photo by John David Pittman.

Elizabeth DeRose (Mary Poppins) and Brian Letendre (Bert). Photo by John David Pittman.

A new production is getting underway– Mary Poppins– and that means a brand-new blog series highlighting the various aspects of the show!

To keep things rolling, we wanted to highlight some things you may not know about the original “Mary Poppins” film and books. Here are some interesting facts, courtesy of our Dramaturg Robert Neblett:



  • Mary Poppins was the first film the Walt Disney Company ever released on DVD format.
  • The word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986.
  • Julie Andrews was left hanging in mid-air during one particularly long camera set up. The stagehands unwittingly lowered her wire harness rather rapidly. “Is she down yet?” called a grip. “You bloody well better believe she is!” fumed Andrews. [From]
  • The opening shot of Mary Poppins sitting on a cloud contains a gag originally used in Disney’s “Dumbo.” While Poppins checks her make-up, her carpetbag slides “through” the cloud. She catches it repeatedly just before it falls to oblivion. The stork delivering Dumbo does the same thing with his bundle. [From]
  • Many of the nannies seeking an interview to replace Katie Nanna at the beginning of the film are men in drag.
  • The child actors who play Jane and Michael were not told that Dick Van Dyke would also be playing Mr. Dawes, Sr., in the bank scenes.

    Julie Andrews & Audrey Hepburn

    Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews

  • Van Dyke suggested to Walt Disney that he double in the role of Mr. Dawes, Sr. He even offered to play the role for free. Disney made him audition for the role, and when Van Dyke was cast, also made him make a financial donation to the CalArts film school.
  • Julie Andrews was hesitant to accept the role of Mary Poppins, hoping that she would be asked to recreate her stage performance as Eliza Doolittle in the film adaptation of the musical My Fair Lady, which cast Audrey Hepburn as the Cockney flower girl instead. Andrews went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role as Mary Poppins in a year that saw the two films competing for Oscars.
  • Interestingly enough, though she was not asked to play Eliza Doolittle, her performance in Mary Poppins is what convinced the producers of The Sound of Music (1965) to cast her as Maria von Trapp, another singing governess (with decidedly fewer magic powers).


  • In the books, Jane and Michael have three additional siblings: the twins, John and Barbara, and youngest sister Annabel, who is born in the middle of the second book, Mary Poppins Comes Back. While Jane and Michael are the primary characters in the books, the other children do accompany M

    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    ary Poppins on adventures as well.

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was written in 1943 to compete with the publication of the third Mary Poppins book, Mary Poppins Opens the Door.
  • The illustrator of the Mary Poppins books, Mary T. Shepard, was the daughter of E. H. Shepard, the famous illustrator of the Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows books.
  • In 1981, the “Bad Tuesday” chapter of Mary Poppins was edited by Travers to alter some negative ethnic stereotypes that were deemed offensive in the latter 20th century. These characters were replaced by animals from around the world.
  • Emma Thompson, who stars as P. L. Travers in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, also appears as a magical, Mary Poppins-esque governess in the Nanny McPhee series of films, based upon the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand.

Pulled from the Mary Poppins study guide, prepared by Robert Neblett.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this magical production and get your tickets to our biggest show ever by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visiting!

Mary Poppins Monday: Extraordinary Lobby Decorations

photo 3A new production is getting underway– Mary Poppins— and that means a brand-new blog series highlighting the various aspects of the show!

To kick off our first Mary Poppins Monday blog post, we wanted to showcase the first thing fans will see when visiting Arkansas Repertory Theatre: the lobby!

This spring when patrons take a step in the lobby, they will be transported to a whimsical land fit for Mary Poppins and her proper ways.

From colorful kites and puffs of cotton emulating clouds to delicate arrangements and intricate cutouts of London-town and Mary Poppins, herself, patrons will be singing a “Spoonful of Sugar” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” upon their arrival!

Decorations were created by the theatre’s Stagehands group, whose mission is to welcome and provide hospitality to The Rep’s visiting actors, directors and technical crew. With her vast interior design experience, Penny Beebe led the colorful project that has taken over the 5

“[The Stagehands and I] discussed the music itself and the various scenes within the movie and the musical,” she said, “and decided to focus on the main character Mary Poppins. [We] thought it would be really special if we could somehow make her fly in and amongst some big, billowy clouds.”

To create Mary Poppins’ silhouette, Beebe looked at various photos and decided on one that was “practically perfect in every way.” She first enlarged her picture with an old-fashioned overhead projector that teachers used to use to teach their lessons and she blew her up on a wall and got the outline.

photo 4“From there, it needed to be transferred to foam board. The problem was she didn’t fit on just one piece. It took five pieces of foam board to create Mary Poppins as she was about nine feet in length– from the top of her umbrella to the end of her carpet bag,” Beebe said.

And it wasn’t that easy to install– it took three people on two tall ladders to get her into place!

As for the fluffy clouds you seeing hanging overhead, Beebe used five paper honeycomb balls–the kind that fan out use for decoration for parties– and tied them all together as the basis for the cloud. She then hot glued stuffing in the holes, creating a cloud-like appearance.

Additionally, the creative group loved the idea of hanging various sizes and colors of kites from the ceiling and wrapping the room with the letters and actual word of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

photoAnd if you look on the outside windows, you might notice the outline of a chimney or two– think “Chim Chim Cher-ee”!

“We chatted about Bert and the chimney sweep scene and that inspired us with the idea of creating a silhouette of that particular scene,” Beebe said, “one we could display on the windows in the lobby so that it could be seen from both the interior and exterior of the building as well.”

Kite strings, parasols and centerpieces for each table (with clear vases held in sugar cubes) rounded out the gorgeous decorations for the lobby.

photo 1“We are all excited about Mary Poppins! Here’s to a another successful event!” Beebe said.

Mary Poppins will take The Rep stage from March 6 and will run through April 12. Get your tickets to this Disney musical by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or by visiting

Thank you our wonderful Stagehands group for their wonderful work on the decorations!

VOTE NOW! Help Name Special Loblolly Ice Cream for Mary Poppins

THEREP_MARYPOPPINS (no credits)-page-001Who doesn’t love Little Rock’s very own Loblolly Creamery? Well, you’re in for a treat!

This spring with our production of Mary Poppins taking The Rep MainStage in March, we have teamed up with the popular creamery to create a special ice cream for the whimsical production– sweet cream with brownie chunks. And guess what? We need your help naming it!

Starting Wednesday, Feb. 11, The Rep is launching its Mary Poppins Ice Cream Naming Contest, where we will be accepting entries for the special treat.

After we chose our top 5 favorite names, then, you, the fans, will vote for your favorite! The winner will receive a pint of the special flavor with their name on the carton and a pair of tickets to see Mary Poppins!

Here is how the contest will work:

IMG_21211. Submit your awesome ice cream name from 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15.  Enter HERE! Bonus points if you include “Rep” somewhere in the name! Special note: Due to copyright, the use of “Mary Poppins” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” cannot be considered for the top five. Sorry! SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED!

2. Our top five favorite names will be selected and fans will be allowed to vote for their favorite on our Facebook page from 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 16 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. The name with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the voting period will be the winner! Vote for your favorite HERE!

3. The winner will receive a pint of the special flavor with their name on the carton and a pair of tickets to see Mary Poppins!

The special ice cream will be sold at Loblolly Creamery, located inside the Green Corner Store, 1423 Main St., Suite D, Little Rock, and at The Rep through the entire run of the show from March 6-April 12.

Don’t miss your chance to try this one-of-a-kind sweet treat celebrating our spring musical and get your tickets to Mary Poppins online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

Vote for your favorite flavor name here!

Whipping Man Wednesday: Historical Background

THEREP_THE WHIPPINGMAN (no credits)-page-001With The Whipping Man in its last week on the Arkansas Repertory Theatre stage, we have short series called “Whipping Man Wednesday” every Wednesday throughout its run.

In closing, we are taking a look at the historical background of the show to better understand this thought-provoking story! For our study guide (available here!), Dramaturg Robert Neblett took a look at the context of the show and we thought it would be fitting to share it for our last post of the series.

Historical Background

The Whipping Man takes place in mid-April, 1865. This is a time of great potential and
even greater tension. The American Civil War has come to an abrupt end with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union military leader Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. On April 14 of that same year, President Lincoln is assassinated. While the War is over and Southern slaves have been legally emancipated, a long period known as the Reconstruction is about to begin in the United States, which will seek to unify the citizens and borders of a broken country. Prejudices, anger, and abuse remain, and corruption abounds during the period between 1863 and 1877.
Jewish Southerners and Jewish SlavesCivil War Jews
Historically, Jews accounted for only 1.25 percent of all slaveowners in the American South in the period leading up to the Civil War. Jewish Southerners seemed to possess many of the same attitudes toward slave ownership as their Gentile neighbors, but because the Jewish landowners did not possess the wealth of their Christian fellows, they were less likely to own and operate plantation estates, as the DeLeon family in The Whipping Man demonstrates.
The Civil War and Reconstruction in Arkansas
In the years leading up to the beginning of the American Civil War, the state of Arkansas
was resistant to the idea of secession, until April 1861 when President Lincoln called upon
the Unionist-allied state to supply military aid against Confederate troops in South Carolina. The state’s response was clear and secede from the Union in May 1861 with a 69-1
Union Occupation Little RockIn 1863, Union forces attacked several garrisons throughout the state, including the defenders of Arkansas Post, where almost 5,000 Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner as a result of their loss. Throughout the rest of the year, Union troops pushed the Confederate presence farther and farther south in the state, and in September 1863, Little Rock fell to Union control. In March 1864, Union forces suffered a defeat during the Red River Expedition and were forced back to Little Rock. By the end of the War, more than 10,000 Arkansans lost their lives, regardless of color or political affiliation.

Pulled from The Whipping Man study guide, prepared by Robert Neblett.

Get your tickets now for this thought-provoking drama, running through Sunday, Feb. 8. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Also check out the full lineup of engagement events for the show here. We hope to see you here!

Closing Week of The Whipping Man: Engage with Us!

Ryan Barry as Caleb (from left), Damian Thompson and Michael A. Shepperd. Photo by Stephen Thornton.

Ryan Barry as Caleb (from left), Damian Thompson and Michael A. Shepperd. Photo by Stephen Thornton.

Can you believe it? It’s the last week of our latest production, The Whipping Man!

An extraordinary tale of loyalty, deceit and deliverance, The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez opened off-Broadway in 2011 to critical acclaim, winning the 2011 John Gassner New Play Award from the NY Outer Critics Circle and becoming one of the most produced plays in the country.

It’s a week definitely not to be missed here at Arkansas Repertory Theatre (and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center)– there are special engagement and standing surround events almost every night this week.

Here is what you can take part in:

It’s in the Bag: Lunch ‘n Learn Series at Mosaic Templars
Tuesday, February 3 | 11:30 a.m.
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W. 9th St., Little Rock
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s quarterly lunchtime series will be a panel discussion, moderated by Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, featuring The Whipping Man cast, alongside Jim Pfeifer, AIA.  After the discussion, tour MTCC’s new exhibit, “Freedom! Oh, Freedom! Arkansas’ People of African Descent and the Civil War: 1861-1866.” Bring your lunch and drinks will be provided. Free!

Girls Night Out with The Design Group
Tuesday, Feb. 3 | 5 p.m.
Sponsored by The Design Group, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Brown Sugar Bake Shop and Arkansas Black Hall of Fame
Mix and mingle in The Rep lobby with yummy treats and fabulous shopping from 5 – 7 p.m. and enjoy a special talk-back discussion immediately following the performance. Post-show discussion moderated by Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, featuring the cast of The Whipping Man and Lottie Shackelford, former Mayor of Little Rock. The special Girls Night Out event is free and open to the public. Tickets to the performance are $35. Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to get your tickets!

Talk-Back Series
Thursday, February 5 | 9:30 p.m.
Post-show discussions that explore the themes present in this production. Free!beerglasses

Live from Foster’s with Crossroads
Friday, February 6 | 6:30 p.m.
Get your evening started early with live pre-show music from Crossroads in Foster’s. Free!

The After-Party
Saturday, February 7 | 10:30 p.m.
Stick around after the show for drinks and look for members of the cast to make an appearance at The Rep’s lounge Foster’s. Free!

Get your tickets now for this thought-provoking drama. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Learn more about this incredible play with our study guide here. We hope to see you here!

Sign Interpreter Night for The Whipping Man Wednesday

IKcjgzqMcqn an effort to make Arkansas Repertory Theatre more accessible, we have a Sign Interpreter section for the deaf on the third Wednesday of every production run through the season.

Raphael James, an instructor in the Interpreter Education program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will be positioned in front of the new section, located on the First Mezzanine. He will sign directly for those who need his services.

We are gearing up for our next sign interpretation night, which will be the The Whipping Man performance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4. There are still seats available! Any open seats in the section will be released to the public at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, so get your seats now!


Here are the dates for the remainder of the season:

  • Mary Poppins: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
  • August: Osage County: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to reserve your seat at our upcoming interpreter nights and get more details at