The song “The Anthropomorphic Zoo” did not make it into “Mary Poppins Returns.” But it’s available here and on the Blu-ray out Tuesday.
The animals are finally loose in “The Anthropomorphic Zoo,” the one song not heard in “Mary Poppins Returns.”
The infectious number by Oscar-nominated songwriter Marc Shaiman was written for the animated sequence of director Rob Marshall’s musical starring Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack.
But it was ultimately cut from the film for time.
The demo version of “Anthropomorphic Zoo,” sung by Shaiman and illustrated with storyboards showing proposed camera shots, can be heard at USA TODAY and as a bonus feature on the digital (March 12) and Blu-ray (March 19) release of “Mary Poppins Returns.”
“The song is so much fun,” says Marshall. “But we really had an embarrassment of riches in this movie. We just had too much material.”
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“Anthropomorphic Zoo” was written for the animated scene when Blunt’s Poppins magically jumps into the world within a cracked Royal Doulton bowl with Miranda’s Jack and her young charges Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson).
Marshall planned to have the group ride a carriage to the zoo where the humans and animals trade places – the animals are walking around in Victorian clothes and the humans are in cages.
As the song’s lyrics state, “the snakes are all in bliss, as the politicians hiss” and the “waitress is bovine, as she’s mooing out the orders to a chef quite elephantine.”
However, the film’s animated segment was getting too long, with the showstopping music hall number “A Cover Is Not the Book” as its centerpiece. Miranda and Blunt did perform “Anthropomorphic Zoo” during a group read-through of the script prior to production. But the song was removed even before filming.
“That would have taken six months to create that one song,” says Marshall. “It was very hard to cut.”
“Mary Poppins Returns” received critical and awards praise for its music, including Oscar nominations for the score and the song “The Place Where Lost Things Go.”
“Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers had written about the concept of zoos where the animals were the spectators and the humans were in cages. After filming was complete, Marshall was looking through the Walt Disney archives for material from the 1964 original “Mary Poppins” and was surprised that director Robert Stevenson had featured a similar zoo scene.
The song “Chimpanzoo,” where humans were under lock and key, was part of that film’s animation sequence. But Stevenson had cut his section for time as well.
“This is the hand-to-God truth,” says Marshall. “There were pictures of animals walking around in clothes and people in cages. I thought ‘Oh, my God, they were going down this road too.’ ”
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