JESSICA van VONDEREN: The story of Mary Poppins has very close ties with regional Queensland. Author PL Travers was born in Maryborough. The musical has proved an overwhelming success at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, and audiences have been able to learn about the author at an exhibition there.
(FOOTAGE OF MARY POPPINS DRESS)
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, EXHIBITION CURATOR: It was wonderful to learn that the creator of a character as well loved and as well known as Mary Poppins was actually not only an Australian but a Queenslander born in Maryborough. Her father was a bank manager. So she and her mother and her two sisters, she had two sisters which you dont hear about very often, spent their very earliest years in Maryborough. So they were there for about I think for about four or five years and then there some changes in their circumstances and they ended up in Allora for a period of time as well. So she spent quite few of her earliest childhood years in Queensland and I think thats reflected in the book. Because I think the resourcefulness that she needed to develop living in those sort of environments and particularly when they moved to Allora it was very open there was a sense of the sky, the star, Im sure that that had a real influence on the why the stars are important in the stories theyre a constant element because skies in outback Queensland are just blazing with them. And when we learnt that the Mary Poppins musical was coming here it seemed a fortuitous match that we could tell the story of PL Travers the writer and the character of Mary who sort of almost is an alto ego I think for Pamela and then to show how the character developed from the book to the film and then eventually into this live musical show.
(FOOTAGE OF MARY POPPINS THE MUSICAL)
CHRISTOPHER SMITH: We were fortunate that we managed to arrange a loan from th4e State Library of New South Wales where the PLTravers literary collection is held. And what I wanted was pieces that actually showed the hand of the author. So things that shed written on, drafts for things, comments that shed made. Theres a wonderful copy of the shooting script for the film which they, she managed to get sort of first refusal I suppose on the details of the script so shes actually written comments about it saying Mary wouldnt do this or I dont think thats correct. And theres drafts of stories for her later works.
(MORE FOOTAGE OF COSTUMES OF MARY POPPINS)
CHRISTOPHER SMITH: The costumes weve got here are from the Australian production. Were very fortunate in that over the period of two plus years that the shows been running inevitably the costumes have to be remade. Casts change, costumes get a bit worn sometimes but they have multiples as well because they get a lot of wear and tear on stage so we were able to negotiate with the company to borrow some of the extra costumes. For instance there are two costumes here worn by Mrs Banks the mother because the actress played in Brisbane is different from the actress playing in Sydney and Melbourne. So they had to remake them so we were fortunate we got to have some of the original costumes.
(MORE FOOTAGE OF MARY POPPINS THE MUSICAL)
CHRISTOPHER SMITH: If any childrens books survives two or three generations I think its destined to be a long term classic and Mary Poppins has certainly done that.