As previously tipped (See The Goss, 26 Mar 2004), David Haig, Jenny Galloway and Rosemary Ashe will join the cast of Cameron Mackintosh and Disney’s £8 million stage adaptation of Mary Poppins, which will open at the Prince Edward on 15 December 2004, following an initial eight weeks, from 28 September to 6 November 2004 (previews from 15 September), at the Bristol Hippodrome. Rehearsals begin next week, on 19 July 2004.

Haig (Journey’s End, Hitchcock Blonde, Dead Funny, TV’s Thin Blue Line) will play Mr Banks with Linzi Hateley (Chicago, On Your Toes, The Secret Garden as his wife Mrs Banks. Ashe (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Witches of Eastwick) and Galloway (My One and Only, Mamma Mia! as Miss Andrew and Mrs Brill, respectively.

In addition to, as already announced, Laura Michelle Kelly in the title role and Gavin Lee as Bert the chimneysweep (See News, 14 Jun 2004), the production also features Julia Sutton (as Bird Woman), Kevin Williams (Park Keeper), Gerard Carey (Robertson Ay) and five sets of children playing Michael and Jane Banks.

Also in the cast are Sarah Bayliss, Ian Burford, Ashley Day, Jye Frasca, Lewis Greenslade, Howard Jones, Sarah Keeton, Melanie La Barrie, Claire Maching, Matthew Malthouse, Stephen McGlynn, Tamara McKoy Patterson, Tim Morgan, Stuart Neal, Zak Nemorin, Terel Nugent, Lisa O’Hare, Pippa Raine, Louisa Shaw, Savannah Stevenson, Nathan Taylor, Philip Michael Thomas, Poppy Tierney, Agnes Vandrepote, Alan Vicary, Emma Woods and Andrew Wright.

The new book for Mary Poppins is written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), drawing on stories from five of PL (Pamela) Travers books as well as the 1964 Disney film, which starred Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. At a recent press reception, co-producer Mackintosh said that, when adapting the children’s classic for the stage, the aim has been to produce something “familiar but surprising… you want to create theatrical magic, not a bad version of cinematic magic.”

Mary Poppins will feature many of the songs from the Sherman Brothers' Oscar-winning film score - which included "Chim Chim Cher-ee", "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - as well as new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Honk!, Peter Pan).

The creative team is led by former NT artistic director Richard Eyre, with co-direction and choreography by Matthew Bourne and additional choreography by Stephen Mear. The production is designed by Bob Crowley, with lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Andrew Bruce and Nick Lidster, and orchestrations by William David Brohn.

- by Terri Paddock