Saturday, December 6, 2014

Peter Pan Live! (A Review)

"I have a place where dreams are born, and time is never planned. It's not on any chart, you must find it with your heart…"

Be prepared to encounter spoilers herein. ;)

As I told Sky, I'm really honored to be allowed to write a post for you… especially one like this! It contains some of the things that make up who I am, and are most dear to me… a hometown connection, theatre, stories, and nostalgia.

I've always loved Peter Pan… I don't remember much about the book, the Disney film, Neverland, or some of the others. I do vividly remember the Jeremy Sumpter version, (the much beloved Robin Williams movie) Hook, and the one that comes full circle this weekend… the stage play. I've never seen it in person, but I can recall countless times of curling up with my sister in front of the living room television, watching the Mary Martin version on VHS. (our parents had taped it off of tv. Just as memorable to me, are the commercials on that tape! Such as Campbell's soup, McDonald's, and Peter Pan Peanut Butter!) I remember all of the times, that I would sing along… or sing the songs later on my own.

All of us, or most at any rate, remember when NBC made the Sound of Music Live! last year. Isn't it interesting that the first two they pick for live stage broadcasts are two of my most cherished childhood favorites?! First that, now Peter Pan has been shown live once more (Thursday), about the time the stage play is turning 60!

When I first heard it was to be made, I was… unsure as to how to feel. The excitement was there… but I was also worried. What would it's impact be, on the memory of the one I grew up with? Would they do it justice? Would I like it, while others hated it… like with Sound of Music? Well, we need wonder no more. I'll try to keep it as brief as possible… however, I make no promise. :P

"For sure?" "For sure!"

My overall impression:

Well, because of needing sleep and dealing with health issues, I watched it over two nights (thank you, DVR!). And hopefully this will tell you something… I'm sitting here crying, sing-songing "I'm crying" to the tune of "I'm flying", and will occasionally burst out "Can I be Peter Pan when I grow up? What fun that would be!" :P

Getting picky:

Well, if my biggest "complaint" with it, is that I can see the wires holding them up when they fly, then we're in pretty good shape! That doesn't even bug me so much, because having done live theatre, and that's what this is, things like that happen. You can't expect it to change, just because we're seeing it on tv, rather than in person. Theatre is theatre… tricks of the trade, are tricks of the trade. End of story. Now, moving on…


Hearing about this as each role was cast was pretty interesting. We have a few big names (Christopher Walken, Minnie Driver), cast members from Newsies on broadway and from the Muny stage… and Brian Williams' daughter in the lead! Craziness, right? Now that I've seen it: Wow… everyone was so great! But within that, I did have some definite opinions, when comparing it to the version I knew as a little girl. And here they are…

  1. The Lost Boys… seemed a little old to me, but seeing as they were similar in age to Peter, I almost didn't mind. (though, when John and Michael are the youngest and not their peers, it's kind of off a little. Haha) But they had great personalities, and I honestly grew to care for each of them, even though you don't know their names (except for Slightly!)
  2. Tiger Lily, her tribe, the pirates, and all the rest were fantastic as well. I especially liked the Darling parents. Might I quickly add here, that at first I was sad that Christian Borle's part wasn't larger… but now that I've seen the whole thing, I don't know where else I would have put him. He made a really memorable Father and Smee… though isn't the actor who plays father, traditionally the one who plays Hook? Ah well, he was awesome!
  3. Wendy Moira Angela Darling… Muny alumni, Taylor Louderman, was amazing as the wide-eyed girl who was coming to terms with growing up. She shone the most: in her solo when Peter was showing her the dangers of Neverland, tucking in the Lost Boys... and most of all, when trying to cheer up any of them (Peter, especially). You could totally see that she felt "mother-ish" toward all (but one!) of the boys... a hint of the mum she'd someday be. ;) I'm thinking that it's nice to be able to "claim" her as one of our own! (growing up close to certain places, people feel a sort of kinship connection to others from your own area. I'm sure you can think of some from yours...)
  4. Hook… Christopher Walken was superb, really. (you wouldn't expect him to keep up with the rest that well at his age, but WOW!) That said, I think I prefer the old Hook… not sure why, can't put my finger on it. But there it is. (I think it was Cyril Ritchard)
  5. The reason we're all here… Peter Pan.

Allison Williams was fabulous! I still can't believe I'm saying this, after spending so long growing up with Mary Martin… but I like the new Peter better!! Although Mary is a slight bit cockier (which the character is known to be), Allison is decidedly more boyish in her mannerisms and expressions. If not for any other reason, I would watch it a million times just to see her in the role. (Makes me wish I could do Shrek the musical over again… I'd play Hansel a little differently this time, given the chance)

Songs, new and old:

To be honest, I didn't see much different song-wise. I mean, obviously a few things were added (like a new song for Wendy, and more singing time for their mother, for example), but it seemed pretty much "I know that one!!" the entire show. Note… I did sing along with the movie… just not loudly (so I could hear the actors). The one I was most curious about, after reading things online, was the replacement for the song with the Indians ("Ugg-a-Wugg"). Although I kinda missed the old way, I seriously didn't notice much difference in terms of words. In my mind, they cut a few lines, and changed the title… but other than where they were when it was sung, I didn't see much changed. So, I needn't have been anxious, it worked out just fine! Oh, and Peter's new song before the children were to leave (we all know they were really just gonna be taken captive, but whatevs)? That was… that was SO sad, and it was sung so convincingly and movingly that I was near tears for the poor kid. *sniff*


I can't decide which I like better. I think that I prefer the Darling home in the old one, and everything else in the new. That said, I miss the little house that they built around Wendy in the old one… that bit was cute. And I do like the Lost Boys' hideout (and the nursery's window) in the new one. It's complicated, alright?!

Other thoughts:

Nana as a real dog, rather than whatever they did before? I approve! Two shadows for Peter in "I've Gotta Crow"? Interesting… missed the shadow play thingummy he did in the old one. Michael using the word "awesome" as they flew? Not the best choice, when coming from a kid raised in Victorian London, but I'll allow it. :P  A purpley-blue-pink crocodile? Okay, that was different… and went well with the scenery, which was all bright and cheery in hues. And Jane, at the end, was so adorable and seeing her and Peter fly off… *sniff* That's when I started bawling, I think.

Grade from me: A+

Would I watch it again, and even buy it? Yes, a million times, yes! That said, I'll still watch the old version, for memories' sake… I don't have the heart to let it go. I suppose it's the same as still watching BBC's Narnia, while loving the Walden Media versions. You can have a place in your heart for both… they mean different things, and are from different phases of your life.

Should you, or shouldn't you:

Should you preorder the DVD right now? In my opinion, yes! And while you wait for it to be available on the 16th, you'll be happy to know you don't have to wait that long. If you missed it the first time, or want to see it all again, it's re-airing on the 13th… so mark your calendars!

Before I leave…
Right now, I'm a massive puddle of contentment, and frankly, surprised I was able to coherently form this much into a review. Be on the lookout for edits, once I've had a chance to rewatch the old version. I might feel the need to add a thought or two. So, keep checking back. ;)

"When I went home… I found that sad to say… you must expect to be forgotten, once you've gone away!"
Oh, Peter… we will never forget you!!! Not Wendy, not the boys, not me, or any other child who grew up hearing of you!

"And so, I couldn't stay… that lonely night… when I went home."
"Peter, be very brave… come back with us."

Yes, come back… again and again… we'll be waiting. I'll… I'll be waiting. As you yourself have said… "If growing up means it would be, beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I'll NEVER grow up…" :D Anyway…

"And that's my home. Where dreams are born, and time is never planned… just think of lovely things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever… in Never… Neverland!"


  1. Ahhh!! I loved watching it too (even though most of the people I watched it with were so-so in their opinions about it)

    I've been told I used to watch the Mary Martin version all the time but now I can hardly remember it. But I adore Peter Pan (I even dressed up as him all day for school and the viewing!!)

    I thought the cast did great (especially Allison) and the sets were beautiful. I think my least favorite part was Hook, unfortunately. I mean, good for him for doing it at his age but some of his actions didn't feel Hook-ish. (maybe my view of Hook is tainted by all the other Peter Pan stories. But my brother says the best Hook is from Hook and I think I agree.)

    :) I loved your review. It shows your love for Peter Pan and it thoroughly explained what you thought of it!

    1. Firstly, I'm so glad you loved the review, and the subject of it!!

      Secondly, I think you and your brother are correct... the best Hook was definitely Dustin Hoffman!! That said, Cyril Ritchard (Mary Martin version) and Jason Isaacs (2003 film) are tied for a very close second!

      If you ever want to chat Peter Pan, or anything else, feel free to message me! (ask Sky how, if you need to) I'd be sure to make the time... us Neverland girls are a rare breed, so must stick together! ;)


  2. I grew up with the cartoon, the sequel, Mary Martin, the following Broadway show, the Jeremy Sumpter version (THE NEW PAN COMING OUT!!!!!!)
    and so my heart just needs to snatch this up POSTHASTE.