As previously reported (See News, 1 Jun 2007), Mary Poppins will embark on a national tour once it finishes its two-year West End run on 12 January 2008. The schedule, now confirmed, opens on 4 June 2008 for a month at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Following Plymouth, the musical will continues to Birmingham Hippodrome (10 July – 27 September 2008), Edinburgh Playhouse (1 October – 6 December 2008), Manchester Palace Theatre (10 December 2008 – 7 March 2009) and the Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff (11 March – 18 April 2009). These will be the only British dates for the production, which is then due to open overseas in late summer 2009.

Based on the original children’s stories by PL Travers and the Disney film about a magical nanny who revolutionises the lives of the Banks children, the musical has a book by Julian Fellowes and new music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, in addition to many of the Sherman brothers’ original film songs.

Mary Poppins is co-directed by Richard Eyre and Matthew Bourne, choreographed by Bourne and Stephen Mear, and designed by Bob Crowley. In London, the show’s accolades include the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography, the Variety Club Award for Best Musical, the Evening Standard Award for Best Set Design and the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Designer. The musical received its Broadway premiere in November 2006.

Following an out-of-town try-out in Bristol, the stage adaptation of Mary Poppins opened on 15 December 2004 (previews from 6 December) at the West End’s 1,600-seat Prince Edward, where the current cast features Scarlet Strallen (as Mary), Gavin Creel (Bert), Aden Gillett (Mr Banks) and Rebecca Thornhill (Mrs Banks).

Next up at the Prince Edward is the Broadway transfer of Jersey Boys (See News, 6 Jul 2007), which opens on 18 March 2008 (previews from 28 February). The musical, which the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, premiered at Broadway’s August Wilson Theater in November 2005 and won last year’s Tony Award for Best Musical. Directed by Des McAnuff with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, it features many of the group’s pop hits from the Sixties such as "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Oh What a Night" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You".

- by Terri Paddock