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‘Mary Poppins’ goes on the road

Show's first stop will be Chicago in March '09

The Broadway tuner incarnation of “Mary Poppins” has recouped its capitalization costs just as plans for the show’s U.S. tour have firmed up. First stop is set for Chicago in March 2009.

Co-producers Cameron Mackintosh and Disney Theatrical Prods. have not confirmed a capitalization figure, but it’s safe to peg the big budget for “Poppins” — whose large, technologically complex set replicates a three-story house — at north of $15 million.

Recoupment isn’t much of a surprise, since the Broadway production, which opened at the New Amsterdam Theater on Nov. 16, 2006, regularly logs weekly sales of more than $1 million. Last week the musical grossed $1,109,074.

Tour of “Poppins,” meanwhile, is hotly anticipated on the road, where another Disney offering, “The Lion King,” remains a potent draw in a shaky touring market. Road show preems March 25, 2009, at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chi, with further stops to be announced.

The original London production of “Poppins,” which opened in December 2004, closes in January, with a U.K. tour skedded for summer. The physical production of the tour then heads to Australia, where the tuner will bow at Sydney’s Capitol Theater in October 2009.

Further plans for the musical involve not only presenting the full Mackintosh-Disney production abroad but also licensing just the musical itself for new productions.

“It’s a fantastic way in a small market for the title to get out there, and it’s a great revenue base too,” said Thomas Schumacher, producer of Disney Theatrical.

Mackintosh said he hoped “Poppins” had settled into the Rialto for a long run. “It’s recouped when we hoped we’d do it, and the advance is staying healthily stable,” he said.

With a book by Julian Fellowes and a score that combines Sherman Brothers tunes from the 1964 pic with new ones by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, “Poppins” is directed by Richard Eyre and Matthew Bourne and choreographed by Bourne and Stephen Mears. Bob Crowley took home one of his two 2007 Tonys for the set, which he has somewhat reconfigured for road productions.

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