Richard Sherman Returned to Walt Disney’s Office to Re-Record ‘Feed the Birds’ For ‘Once Upon a Studio’
When the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new short Once Upon a Studio makes its broadcast debut on Sunday, October 15, it will not only bring together 100 years of Disney characters for one cartoon, but it will also feature a newly recorded version of the Mary Poppins song, “Feed the Birds,” by Disney Legend Richard Sherman.
During the production of the classic Disney film, Richard and his brother Robert would perform the song for Walt on Friday afternoons in his office.
Now, 48 years after Mary Poppins’ release, Richard Sherman returned to Walt Disney’s office in 2022 to play piano for the new short.
A Moving Experience
“It’s hard to talk about without making ourselves cry,” director Dan Abraham says of Richard returning to Walt’s office.
“Those sentimental moments can be really tough onscreen, and usually they need to get worked a lot. Dan pitched me the idea, and then he went off to board it. We both knew ‘Feed the Birds’ would be an important part of this,” said director Trent Correy
“We watched it play for the first time and it brought tears to our eyes. A couple of days later, we bumped into our head of music, Matt Walker, and he asked us, ‘Why don’t you just get Richard Sherman to play it for your short?’ We said, ‘Is that possible?’ Matt said, ‘Oh, yeah!’ Matt followed that up by suggesting, ‘Why don’t we do it in Walt’s office where he originally played it for Walt?’ We said, ‘OK… but don’t lie to us, Matt! This is a very big deal for us,’” Correy continued.
Sherman’s Involvement In the Short
Even before Richard Sherman was involved in the short, Once Upon a Studio producers Yvett Merino and Bradford Simonsen were thrilled to get the Disney Legend’s opinion on the short.
When Howard Green, Legacy Communications Executive for Disney Animation mentioned that he would be having a birthday lunch with Sherman. Howard asked, ‘Would you would you guys want to show him the short?’” Simonsen recalls.
“That was when it was in storyboards. So, we all went over and showed him that. It was an amazing experience and he asked great questions. At the end of that, he asked, ‘When are you guys done? I want to see it.’ Trent said, ‘We’ll be done in a year. We’ll show it to you for your birthday next year!’”
Returning to Walt’s Office
In August 2022, Richard Sherman returned to Walt Disney’s office, the place where so many memories had been made.
“It looks exactly like how Walt left it, including with the piano the Sherman Brothers played for him back in the day,” Abraham explains. “And there was Richard Sherman! He sat down and played ‘A Spoonful of Sugar,’ and he was just going to town on this piano. Then, when he went into ‘Feed the Birds,’ it was just… I can’t even talk about it without getting chills. I will never, ever forget that day.”
Merino echoed the sentiment saying, “It was a magical day. It truly was a ‘pinch-me’ moment, because he just came in and sat down at the piano and was so natural. He started playing ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’ It was a very special day.”
For Richard Sherman, getting to be involved with Once Upon a Studio was a moving experience.
“I think Walt had a very deep-rooted feeling about this song; he could understand what we were saying. It doesn’t take much to give love, to give kindness, to give thought to people,” Richard explains. “Giving a little something of yourself… it doesn’t take much to do that.”
Once Upon a Studio will air on ABC on October 15 as part of ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration!
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