'Mary Poppins Returns' Sound Editor Describes Creating a Magical World in 'Behind the Screen' Podcast

Oscar-nominee Renee Tondelli also testifies that she's seeing more women working in the still-male-dominated sound field.
Disney Enterprises

Mary Poppins Returns supervising sound editor and sound designer Renee Tondelli is the guest on today's new episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen podcast series.

Tondelli — who served as supervising sound editor and designer with Eugene Gearty — previously earned an Oscar nomination for Deepwater Horizon and has done five films with Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall, including Into the Woods and Nine.

For Marshall's new musical, starring Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Tondelli reported that the most challenging musical number for the sound team features Mary and Jack performing at the Royal Doulton Hall — a hand-animated sequence also featuring penguins and other animals. Said Tondelli, "It was a fine line to get the lyrics clear. It’s very quick, even Jack does a rap at that moment so his lyrics are rapid fire quick and we had to get all of the elements of the audience contributing without competing with [the lyrics]."

She also describes the extensive Foley work on Marshall's Trip a Little Light Fantastic number that, on camera, featured 50 dancers. Noting that Marshall shoots as it if were a Broadway production, Tondelli said, "They do the entire number all the way through. And the way he does his choreography, there were probably five rows deep of different dancing going on. So the back row was shuffling and the second row would be doing the hand wipes and the third one would be spinning and jumping on the lamp posts. Then you'd have the foreground tumblers and bikes zooming through."

"It was really fun," she added.

Tondelli also testifies that she is seeing more women working in sound — an area of filmmaking that is still largely male-dominated.

Hosted by THR tech editor Carolyn Giardina, this new weekly podcast series turns the spotlight on acclaimed cinematographers, editors, production designers, composers, VFX supervisors and other leading artists who take listeners behind Hollywood’s most talked-about motion pictures.

Hear it all below on Behind the Screen — and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an exciting episode.