With Emily Blunt signing on to play the titular Mary Poppins in a new sequel for director Rob Marshall, all we need now is someone equally spectacular to play her compadre Bert, the lovable and energetic chimney sweep. In words I never thought I’d write but am thrilled to do so, it turns out that someone is Lin-Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of Broadway’s award-winning musical Hamilton. It’s truly a jolly holiday with Mary!
Variety was the first to report the news, but Bert will now be a lamplighter named Jack. Dick Van Dyke, who celebrated his 90th birthday with a Mary Poppins-themed flashmob in Disney World, famously portrayed Bert in the original, and Miranda would be perfect to bring a unique twist to the character. The trade confirms that the new film will be set in London during the Depression, the setting for the original books. Other story lines from the source material not adapted for the original will be the focus of the sequel (i.e. more of Mary’s adventures with the Banks family).
If you haven’t seen Hamilton, get in line. But you’ve surely heard of Miranda or at least some of his antics. He rapped his acceptance speech after winning the Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album with the rest of the cast, he performed a drunk freestyle rap on Comedy Bang! Bang!, and he’s working with Dwayne Johnson and Disney on Moana, the Mouse House’s Hawaiian-based animated movie. Similarly, he contributed to the music behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
He’s not officially on board to compose the music for Mary Poppins, but Variety reports that he’s expected to at least be a part of the process, which would be a complete missed opportunity otherwise. Miranda wrote the scripts and songs for the hip-hop-fused Hamilton, and I’m sure fans would pay big bucks to see Blunt as Poppins go Into the Woods of his musical sensibilities.