“A Man Has Dreams.” A song on my Mary Poppins playlist: at least four minutes, and a slow and quiet dialogue between only two characters- no ensemble. From my dance teacher’s perspective, four minutes is a long time for two characters to dialogue onstage, especially two that don’t need any extra solo time to even the stagetime among my cast. I looked over it last fall and thought to myself “I’ll trim that down some.” I’m always looking for ways to make our shows just a little shorter- after all our classes and soloists dance, it’s plenty long enough without adding unnecessary scenes. For this scene was one I never understood when I was little. When I reached that part in the movie, I’m pretty sure it’s where I chose to take a bathroom break, or find Mom and ask her for a snack. Nothing much was happening and I didn’t understand the words Mr. Banks exchanged with Bert anyway.
But as I wrote this show and as I cut, trimmed, and meshed music to create our custom playlist, I found that this was a scene that simply couldn’t be cut in any way. For I found that this was indeed the climax of the plot. I can’t say I expected this since as previously stated, it was a scene that was left misunderstood during the time in my life when I watched the movie the most. But if we examine the storyline of Mary Poppins, the title character is not the character who undergoes any change in the story, she is perhaps the most rigid character of all, the static character. After all, she is already “practically perfect” when we meet her;-) Rather, she is a catalyst for the change in the most dynamic character of all- Mr. Banks. And this scene is where the dynamic takes place deep within, where Bert speaks truth and for the first time, Mr. Banks listens.
So I left the length, and I apologize to all the brothers out there (namely, my own) who think the show should be much shorter than it is. But I encourage those watching to take to heart, the transformation that takes place within Mr. Banks. For he sings (and she dances) here of the dreams that were had, of worldly desires that were dashed, yet are suddenly found unimportant in light of transformed dreams. For I think there is some of Mr. Banks in all of us- that rushes past important moments, that ignores a plea for care, for a listening ear, all in pursuit of other things that we see as dreams. I pray that the shining eyes of our little girls and boys onstage- your children, your family, your friends, are the catalyst that Mary Poppins was to Mr. Banks. That the magic of rooftop-dancing and jumping through chalk pavement pictures might draw us to put down our phones and join in the laughter and smiles that are our families and community. May they never be unimportant. May our everyday dreams include them.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders: make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. -Colossians 4:5-6