Building on a beloved story is always a challenge. At the New York premiere of “Mary Poppins Returns” on Monday night, director Rob Marshall called his task “daunting to say the least.” But as the cast and creative team shared their experiences (and favorite songs), it was clear that everyone involved had a reverence for the original — and that they were determined to make the tale their own.

Emily Blunt had seen Julie Andrews’ iconic take on the character as a child, but she deliberately decided not to revisit the 1964 film until after the shoot for “Mary Poppins Returns” had wrapped. Instead, she went straight to the source: P. L. Travers’ series of Mary Poppins novels. “I just read the books, and read this exquisite script, and so much was evoked from those two experiences that I managed to find a new version of her,” Blunt told Variety.

“I was aware of the books, but I have to be quite honest, I wasn’t fully aware there were eight of them!” Rob Marshall admitted, laughing. Once he dove in, they proved to be exactly what he and his team needed. “There was a lot of material, and it made sense for there to be a sequel someday. It was sort of thrilling, because the first film means so, so much to us, and we wanted to make sure to honor that first film, but at the same time, we were anxious to create an original musical from the very beginning.”

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