Domestic Bliss

Musical theater reigns from Mary Poppins to La Serva Padrona

Edda Glass and Max Hatt bring bossa nova to The Jazz Station
Edda Glass and Max Hatt bring bossa nova to The Jazz Station

Once upon a time, they made movies out of musicals. From the 1940s through the ’70s, once a show had proved its worth on Broadway, Hollywood came calling. In the past generation or so, however, as the big-budget blockbuster mentality infested theater, the process reversed.

Presto (or rather, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”)! The 1964 Disney movie  became a Disney musical, first in England in 2004 and then on Broadway. Though lacking Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, the stage productions did contain the movie’s Sherman Brothers songs (“A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and the rest) as well as the same story drawn from the books by Pamela Travers. Tours and regional productions followed, including a brand-new one opening Sept. 18 at The Shedd and running through Oct. 4.

Directed by Peg Major, this modern fairy tale of a magical nanny who helps a struggling family stars Shirley Andress in the title role, with other Shedd veterans in supporting roles. Robert Ashens leads the music, and Caitlin Christopher choreographs.

Before Mary Poppins alights from the clouds, The Shedd stage hosts Marcia Ball 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 10. Perched on her piano bench with legs crossed, the Austin-based, willowy singer/pianist cheerfully pumps out percolating New Orleans second line arrangements, Fats Domino and Prof. Longhair licks, Crescent City barrelhouse boogie, signature swampy Gulf Coast R&B vocals, blues and even poignant ballads.

Ball has always been an effervescent performer, but her latest album of originals, The Tattooed Lady and The Alligator Man, also showcases her uncommonly detailed and evocative songwriting chops.

If Marcia Ball is a “Hot Tamale Baby” (to cite the title of one of her sizzling covers), then vocalist/lyricist Edda Glass represents the opposite end of the female-singer temperature spectrum. Glass and her songwriter and guitarist partner Max Hatt specialize in music that originated quite a distance from their Montana home — Brazilian bossa nova, to be exact, with its signature cool, laid-back vocals. You can hear them with bassist Clipper Anderson 7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 17, at The Jazz Station.

A couple centuries or so before Travers wrote her Mary Poppins books, Italian playwright Jacopo Angelo Nelli wrote a play about another cunning domestic figure. Like Mary Poppins, The Servant Turned Mistress (La Serva Padrona) was set to music by the great Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. And it, too, was turned into a movie, in 1958 and again in 1999.

The plot lines of the two mighty ladies are quite different (Nelli’s involves some Shakespearean identity deception and revolves around who marries whom) but, in the end, the maid brings joy to this household, too. You can see Pergolesi’s 45-minute original version at 2 pm Saturday, Sept. 12, when the Cascadia Concert Opera performs it at downtown Eugene’s Atrium Building.