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RWA 2011 Wrap-up

“Broaden your horizon
Open different doors
You may find a you there
That you never knew was yours….”
~ Mary Poppins

In addition to the fantastic and very helpful workshops available at RWA 2011, the thing I most enjoyed about my visit to New York City was the chance to attend my very first Broadway theater production. At home, we enjoy going to the Broadway shows that come through on tour, but there is nothing to compare to seeing a show in New York on Broadway. The show is housed in the magnificently restored New Amsterdam theater, a work of art itself. Wow, wow… and just wow.

I’ve always adored Mary Poppins. For that matter, I’ve always enjoyed Julie Andrews. But the magic of Mary Poppins enchanted me, drew me in as a child. The story as told in the Broadway production, however, is slightly different from the movie version that is now so familiar. The primary change is a subtle shift in focus on the character of Mrs. Banks. In the movie, she often got lost behind the slightly humorous renditions of “Sister Suffragette” and in the antics of the staff. She never really stood out as a character of strength. Not so in the stage version. One of the primary storylines becomes hers, a woman trying her very best to be wife and mother, household manager and socialite. And her feelings of failure at everything she tries. One of the most beautiful new songs is “Being Mrs. Banks” which highlights this internal struggle for self:

Being Mrs Banks
Should be an easy role
And yet it’s one
Which I don’t seem to good at
On the whole

I have a comfy home
I have a simple life
I have a name which tells the world
I’m someone else’s wife

Being Mrs Banks
What does that entail?
Facing tests of character
I always seem to fail

View from my seat, first row, balcony

Some familiar elements of the book from the movie, namely the penguin dance sequence and the ceiling tea-party, have been removed completely, but in their place are charming returns –Mrs. Corry’s shop and statues coming to life– familiar to those who have read P.L. Travers’ books. “Feed the Birds” still carried a strong emotional punch. If you’d like a taste of the “old meets new” in Mary Poppins, check out the YouTube video of “Supercalifragillisticexpialidocious” – it will leave you breathless! In short, Mary Poppins on Broadway was even better than the movie, and it carried the concept of everyday magic, of discovering the extraordinary world around us, even when things don’t look or feel that way at all, to new heights, literally and figuratively.

All in all, the trip to New York and the RWA 2011 conference were a very worthwhile venture. Seeing Manhattan was incredible. I learned to much from the workshops. Catching up with dear friends and meeting new ones makes any trip more enjoyable, and I was fortunate to do both.

Thanks for joining me on the RWA 2011 recap this week!


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