If you have seen the movie Saving Mr. Banks, you know how important Mr. Banks is to the story of Mary Poppins. In Aurora Theatre’s current production of the musical, William S. Murphey plays the role of Mr. Banks, and he discusses the character, the production and more in this Quick Chat.
What do you like about playing Mr. Banks?
Well, just about everything. I have always loved the movie and David Tomlinson in it. I’m pleased to get a chance to play the character.
What are some of the differences between Mr. Banks in the film and Mr. Banks in the musical?
I think that in the musical there’s more of an awareness and a focus on the character. The musical gives him more of a chance to realize the error of his ways. In the movie he’s rather buffoonish, but in the stage version, there’s a seriousness and a darkness to him that gives the character more depth. He sings different songs as well.
What does Mary Poppins teach him?
Through Bert, she teaches him that children are not going to be kids forever and to enjoy them now. He learns that family is the most important thing and to take an interest in the kids and not his job.
How is it working with your cast mates?
I can’t say enough about them. Whether it is veterans or the relative newcomers, everybody is bringing their “A” game to this show, making it such a joy to go to work every night.
What makes Aurora a good fit to stage the musical?
There are things that each theater does well. A big, splashy musical is one of the things that they do well. The theater has one of the best musical directors in town with Ann-Carol Pence and one of the best directors with Justin Anderson. It also has an eager audience and talent eager to work with the theater. They have the community support to pull off the show and do it right.
Why should someone see Mary Poppins at Aurora Theatre?
It’s going to make you feel good.
What strikes you most about the growth in Atlanta Theater?
What I notice is the growth of musical theater. Atlanta has always been strong dramatically, but the quality of musicals has increased. It has really been a pleasure to go to musicals and see how the bar has been raised.
See Mary Poppins onstage at Aurora Theatre through August 31, 2014. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website.