I have loved Mary Poppins since I was a little girl. I watched the movie one time and I was hooked. When I traveled to LA last month, I had the chance to talk with a dancer from the movie, Pete Meneff about his experience making Mary Poppins.
Pete Menefee started dancing professionally when he was fourteen. A short 6 years later he was a chimney sweep in Disney’s production of Mary Poppins. He had a very interesting experience. As he was a dancer on Poppins, he was also one of the costume monitors in My Fair Lady which was filming down the street with Audrey Hepburn. Two films that went head to head in 1964 for best picture.
There were 12 dancers on board for the chimney sweep scene. All of them were tumblers in addition to having at least 10 years of dancing experience. They practiced and filmed in the back lot of Disney studios with Walt Disney on set every single day. He mentioned that Walt knew everyone in the film by name. The lot was so hot that the dancers were allowed to rehearse in swim trunks.
The choreography wasn’t done until the dancers got there. They tried out different things with their custom made chimney brooms, like doing cartwheels down the sides of the buildings. The dancing scenes could be very brutal like when they had to pop down into the chimney. There was a stagehand who would trip the chimney after the third pop and they would fall into it hitting a mattress below. Pete said that it was horrible and he would have nightmares about it. He said that the drop wasn’t so bad, it was the size of the chimney opening. He would clip his nose or his chin and have bad dreams about it.
Pete Menefee has gone on to do some choreography as well as a very successful career in the costume design field. He has worked with Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, The Pimps, The Tops, and Elvis 5 times. He has done 3 Olympic Ceremonies, and even has designed for the Moscow Circus. He has had a long and very successful life in the dramatic arts.
Now his role as a chimney sweep is reviving as Mary Poppins is releasing the 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray and DVD Combo Pack. You can have the magical spirit of Mary Poppins in your home on December 10th, just in time to be the perfect holiday gift for some lucky person on your gift list. Every year for our stockings we each get a movie, this year I know what I will be wanting!
You can pre-order Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) on Amazon for shipment on December 10th for $32.96 and free shipping!
I hope you can check out all my other adventures at the #DisneyFrozenEvent including my Voice-Over as the one and only Olaf from FROZEN!