TV Review: ‘Peter Pan Live!’

Peter Pan Live! TV Review on

About 10 minutes after the ratings for “The Sound of Music Live!” rumbled in, I (and no doubt a lot of others) immediately thought “Peter Pan.” Not because that musical is the equal of the Von Trapps’ tale, but because it combined a family-friendly story with the sort of daredevil flying stunts that reliably lure rubes to watch those Nik Wallenda specials – live, naturally, thanks to the spectacle and risk. By that measure, NBC likely won the battle during the strategy sessions, despite a woefully lifeless production that, the fancy wiring notwithstanding, never quite got off the ground.

The casting in these endeavors always commands a little too much attention, and while the choices in this case were hardly fatal given the abundance of shortcomings, they certainly didn’t help.

That began with Allison Williams, whose singing voice was perfectly fine, but seemed far less boyish – and buoyant – than other famous occupants of the Peter Pan role on stage; and pretty much ended with Christopher Walken, an intriguing choice in theory, but whose laid-back take on Captain Hook and muted voice only exhibited the faintest spark when he had an opportunity to dance. Moreover, Walken’s makeup was positively pallid, at times bearing a closer resemblance to Count Dracula.

Lacking as many well-known and show-stopping songs as “Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan” has always fed upon the energy provided by a live theatrical audience, playing as it does to the sense of wonderment about flight, the colorful costumes and choreography, with Lost Boys, pirates and Native Americans bounding around.

As a consequence, when the producers spoke of investing this production with a more cinematic feel, that frankly misses the point. The real thrill in “Peter Pan” is in the live element. (Of course, for those of us on the West Coast, the title might as well have been “Peter Pan … Delayed!,” but why split hairs?)

The expansive, kaleidoscopic sets and swiveling camerawork – including an aerial view – didn’t really serve to enhance any of that. At times, Neverland appeared less a magical place than a cut-rate throwback to the days of Sid and Marty Krofft.

Stretched to three hours to “eventize” and amortize the proceedings, “Peter Pan” also had the misfortune to peak early – about 30 minutes in, when Peter whisks Wendy (Taylor Louderman) and her brothers off to Neverland – and fly on autopilot thereafter, only catching an updraft during that poignant moment at the end when Peter returns for the adult Wendy (Minnie Driver), who has committed the unforgivable sin of growing up.

As a footnote, the presentation not surprisingly included plenty of promotion for NBC, including one for Williams’ dad, Brian, who, if memory serves, also works at the network.

It’s been 60 years since Mary Martin soared in a live NBC production of J.M. Barrie’s story, bringing a nice symmetry to this holiday telecast. But that was nearly a lifetime ago – and certainly before the age of social media, creating an army of buccaneers eager to pick such a project apart in real time.

Yet even for those who are less cynical – or at least, more willing to believe in fairies – “Peter Pan Live!” didn’t provide much reason to applaud.

TV Review: 'Peter Pan Live!'

(Special; NBC, Thur. Dec. 4, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in New York by Storyline Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television and Universal Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron; director, Rob Ashford; director for live television, Glenn Weiss; musical director, David Chase; production designer, Derek McLane; choreographer, Ashford. 3 HOURS

Cast

Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle, Taylor Louderman, Kelli O’Hara, Alanna Saunders, Minnie Driver

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 124

Leave a Reply

124 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Dane says:

    Seth macfarlain would have been a great Hook.

  2. Sammy Keats says:

    Peter Pan was always played by a woman because James Barrie wrote it for a woman in the first place. However, most women playing the role make some effort to walk, talk and sing like a boy. This actress did not do so. I have no idea why, or why this Captain Hook seemed to be sleep-walking rather than delighting in his villainy, why they added songs that are not in the witty original, why they took Pan’s heart-wrenching lullaby about his memories of a long ago lullaby and gave them to Wendy, who had a loving mother, not an absent one, and why they didn’t use the fabulous, amazing Jerry Robbins choreography? And why did they add songs? I understand them wanting to change the lyrics to Ugga Wa, which is based on a 1950’s child’s version of “the Brave Noble Redskin,” hardly inoffensive today. But why add the rest when the show, as written, flowed so beautifully? Really, in the original production or later ones, the opening is not boringly slow, nor does it matter that the opening ends with a lullaby. it all holds, as it’s building tension towards that extraordinary moment when the children explode in flight.

    When an entire production stinks, when Christian Borle is boring, when the Lost Boys look like aging Nazi Youth, and Peter is a very feminine, unenergized, honestly boring actress, (with no sense of humor, it seems) and Wendy, though beautifully played, looks about ten years too old, when even the deliciously evil Captain Hook is not in the least bit evil, or the pirates not the least bit pirate-like, and most of all, when the the energy, joy and child-insight of the original is lost in all but “I Won’t Grow Up,” and Wendy, than that has to be laid at the decision-makers of the production. My wee ones are bored to tears, and begging for Mary Martin or Cathy Rigby, who were both completely believable as small boys. and for those who complain that “peter obviously wants to screw Wendy,” well, in those productions, these were believably boys clinging to their boyhood, and longing for a mother. Yuuuuuuck, guys. What a waste of a classic!

  3. t.k. danko says:

    The HUGE mistake of Allison Williams’ Peter Pan was playing Peter with the English accent. It takes away the directness of playing a young boy. If you watch Mary Martin, she can say “You guys wanna go… Lets Go!” and sound like a young boy. Allison sounded too formal & couldn’t play Young Boy & English at the same time. I doubt whether an English actress would play it with a Posh British accent.
    Kinda doomed from the start.

  4. Harlan Wilson says:

    You know Peter Pan is a wonderful children’s story? Have you asked young children how they liked the show? I am not a child but relived the Mary Martin play again and thought the performance was wonderful. Grow young again, not up.

  5. Wendy says:

    In replying to your post mentioning Leonard Bersnstein, and as one Wendy to another, I grew up loving Mary Martin’s Peter Pan, but my daughters and I (one of whom has the middle name of Jane) listened over and over to the cassette tape we had of Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan as they were growing up. Oh, the songs were just beautiful and poignant.

  6. Ross Atley says:

    What a disappointing collaboration of claptrap passing for legitimate theatre… There is not one aspect I can single out as even vaguely exiting… Oi!! :/

    • krazikat says:

      Loved your comment! Spot on! The more I looked at it the more I saw such glaring flaws. I hate to be so hyper-critical, but . . . Maybe it’s the artist in me or memories of being a stage director when I was in college and worked in the theater. My mother saw the very first production in NYC back in 1950-51. I was born shortly afterward. My mother loved the name Wendy and it became my own!

      I worked at NBC when I lived in the Los Angeles area. They were not lacking in cash flow. But, this production short changed many areas especially the costuming. If you look back at all of the other productions the fact that NBC cheaped-out is even more glaring. If they had wanted to ‘modernize’ this particular production they should have done it across the board. But, if they wanted to true to the original you have to look back to the early 1900s. The novel was written by J.M Barrie for adults in 1902.

      The very first stage play entitled “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” was produced December 27, 1904. The play was adapted and expanded somewhat as a novel, published in 1911 as “Peter and Wendy”.

      Peter’s appearance was never described in detail. That left much to the imagination of all who read the book. That also left the interpretation wide open for anyone adapting the character for a play. The author, J.M. Barrie, said in “Peter and Wendy” that Peter Pan still had all his “first teeth” and went on to describe him as “a beautiful boy with a beautiful smile”. He went on to say that he was “clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that flow from trees”. In the play, Peter’s outfit is made of autumn leaves and cobwebs. His name and playing the flute or pipes suggest the mythological character Pan.

      So, that is pretty easy to understand and interpretation of this is very limited to how he is described if you want to be true to the book. So, what the hey did they do to Allison Williams’ costume? The horror! And so it went from that point forward. Mr. Barrie is turning over in his grave at this bastardization of his wonderful book and the original theatrical production. As you so eloquently said “Oi!!”.

  7. krazikat says:

    I thought many of you would find this historic factoid interesting when it comes to why they decided on a grown woman to play Peter Pan.

    “Initially, the interests of a producer, the logistics of casting, and even English law may have played a part. After that, it became tradition. In his 1979 book, J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan, English writer and director Andrew Birkin recounts the backstory for the first stage productions. Broadway producer Charles Frohman enthusiastically agreed to produce the play, and he made a couple of suggestions to the author. First, that it be titled, simply, Peter Pan; Barrie’s working title was The Great White Father, which is what Barrie has the Indians call Peter. (That phrase has uncertain origins but was—and is—used by some Native Americans to refer to white leaders.) Second, Frohman asked that, in America, the starring role of Peter be played by his protégé, Maude Adams. Frohman reasoned that a man would be wrong for the part, and if they cast a boy, the other children “would have to be scaled down in proportion.” English law prohibited the use of minors under 14 on stage after 9 p.m. So a woman it was.”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/01/23/peter_pan_played_by_a_woman_why_a_history_of_casting_the_j_m_barrie_character.html

    • Wendy says:

      Thank you! I enjoy reading facts, and I’d also read years ago that the title character was simply too rigorous for a boy, making a small, but grown, woman perfect for the part. I feel the tradition of having a woman play Peter is charming. I also love the fact that Mr. Darling (usually) plays Captain Hook, too.

  8. krazikat says:

    Christopher Walken and his brothers, Kenneth and Glenn, were child actors on television in the 1950s. He dropped out of Hofstra University after a year when he got the role of Clayton Dutch Miller in an Off-Broadway revival of Best Foot Forward, co-starring with Liza Minnelli, who played Ethel Hofflinger. Walken first trained as a dancer in music theatre at the Washington Dance Studio. After appearing in a sketch with Martin and Lewis [on The Colgate Comedy Hour] he decided to become an actor. As we all know his history of film and stage is prolific. Sadly, in my humble opinion, I did not feel that this part was one he should have accepted. His heart just was not in it. I am sure a lot of that was due to he lack of an LIVE audience. Stage actors work off of the energy and reaction of the audience. That is why I never understood the reasoning behind having a ‘live performance’ on television.

    As for who might have done a better, more alive job of this part – it is hard to determine as most of those qualified would also have been up against no live audience! That being said I thought Willem Dafoe would have been a better choice. I have seen him in some parts where he is a very imposing and indeed frightening character! Of course Christian Borle was and is the perfect choice English accent and all!

    As I stated before I got my name after my mother saw the 1950 version that predated the Mary Martin production by four years. Words as well as music were by Leonard Bernstein! I mean – come on! He must have been incredible. It starred Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff. My entire childhood I watched the television version of “Peter Pan” every year! It became a family tradition. It was magical. That being said my expectations for production and acting have been set very high.

    One more thing – call me crazy, but I thought they cheaped out a bit on the costuming! If you go back to watch prior versions of this production you will see what I am talking about.

    Hopefully next year they will work the kinks out.

  9. Denise says:

    Well said, J.B. I agree with you 100%.

  10. J.B. Lee says:

    I must comment on the performance turned in (as in “went to bed”) by Christopher Walken. I know Walken is a national treasure, and I truly enjoy most of his quirkiness. However, it was out of place in this production as he appeared to phone it in. (I kept expecting him to shout, “I need more cowbell!”) And it’s not like he can’t do the song and dance thing! For a truer example of his prodigious talent, check out his performance as a licentious creep in the movie “Pennies form Heaven,” doing a strip tease on a bar as he wonderfully dances and lip-syncs to “Let’s Misbehave” to seduce Bernadette Peters. Truly a genius moment. I would have liked to have seen some of that energy in his Captain Hook.

    • Wendy says:

      YIKES! Certainly you know (or maybe not) that “Pennies from Heaven” was 33 years ago, and Christopher Walken is now 70 years old. There’s probably no way he could put in a performance like he did when he was 36 or 37; however, I’m in your camp – he was out of place in this production. I still stand by my choice for Mr. Darling/Captain Hook: Seth MacFarlane. And, he’s only 41. (Actually, Christian Borle’s performance as Mr. Darling/Smee was wonderful, I felt, and he’d have made a MUCH better Hook than CW did.)

  11. librarianmi says:

    The element that was obviously, devastatingly missing from both PP and Sound of Music is a live audience. A play needs a reaction…laughing, clapping, groaning. Even Christopher Walken’s leaden Hook would have benefited greatly from an audience reacting to his campier moments. Scenes ended abruptly and went right to commercials. How much more involved would the home audience have been if the production had taken a few seconds to hear an audience applauding before each break. And if these shows are indeed aimed at children, then let children learn that a theatrical production is not a movie. The pleasure and importance of a live audience cannot be underestimated.

  12. Bobby Head says:

    What happened to our beloved Christopher Walken in this no energy performance. He looked like he could use some life support; or a least an oxygen tank. He was horrible; lifeless.

    And this armature playing Peter Pan. Good night Irene; can’t you get some proven professional Broadway life stage actors for this? Yes I said actor as in boy, This Pan was no professional like Cathy Rigby with gusto energy and smaller. This Pan had lifeless eyes and put you to sleep acting. And the too old Windy always wanting to kiss this obvious girl looking Pan. Made my wife and I uncomfortable. We were saying, I hope they don’t kiss; we’ll change the channel.

    And how about all the boys in Never land. They were beyond puberty by years, ready for the NFL draft.

  13. Denise says:

    I agree with you. I love Walken but he was so low energy in this. McFarlane would really camp it up and, as you say, his accents are spot on. Russell Brand would also be a good candidate. He looks like a pirate, has a devilish air and could easily pull off the campy aspects of Hook’s character. Cyril Richard set the bar so high, it will be hard to top that performance.

  14. Wendy says:

    I’m replying to all those who disliked Christopher Walken’s version of Captain Hook. I, too, was looking forward to seeing him but baffled by his choices, all in all. So, my family and I were coming up with ideas for a better Hook… Okay, now think about it… Seth MacFarlane! Yes, think about it!! With his plethora of spot-on accents and his delicious singing voice, he could have played Mr. Darling AND Captain Hook equally passionate, colorful, and poignant.

  15. Jim says:

    This is a very well written review. I think you are precisely correct in your conclusion that Peter Pan is meant to be seen live and that much is lost on screen. This review goes so much further than the vitriolic reviews I’ve read other places that don’t speak to any insight into theater or performance.

  16. The problem with this show and the previous show – “The Sound of Music” – is the casting. If they are going to go through with a huge Broadway production – let real Broadway professionals be the lead! And – let females play female characters and let males play male characters!! The lead does not have to be someone famous like Carrie Underwood!! Stop casting “famous” people = let real Broadway actors and actresses play the lead roles. And let females play female parts and male should play male parts!

    • S.L. Kotar says:

      Christopher Walken has a Broadway resume as long as your arm. In fact, he began his career as a child actor on Broadway. And least we forget how perceptions change and memory fades, my mother saw the Broadway production with Sandy Duncan and the audience BOOED. My mother was utterly devastated.

  17. Leslie Kelly says:

    I adored this production. In particular, Christopher Walken’s Hook – his insouciance was fun and scary. Allison Williams’ voice is wonderful and she really looked like a boy. I have loved this story my whole life and must say this was one of the best versions. I also admired the stage setting – remarkably clever and captured the sense of an island. Well done and thank you, producers and players.

  18. Mrs Grace says:

    As a person with knowledge of the theatre, there were 3 issues. 1) as an actor you must have energy. You can have the worst set/props on the planet. Yet with grand energy the audience connects. 2) Casting, Ms Williams was not right for this role and she was not connected to her character 3) the overall pace of the show was slow as a snail.
    Ms O’Hara was the only actor who brought belief and energy. Her delivery was outstanding and true and I would have expected nothing less from her, a completely skilled and consummate professional.
    Peter Pan in my book did not fly.

  19. Wayno says:

    Viewers enjoyed Peter Pan for their enjoyment, not to listen to the mindless whims of “critics.” This may come as a total shock to the critics who serve no other purpose than to bring down all artistic endeavors..

  20. John says:

    Loved the show! Loved Allison Williams, Christopher Walken and all the cast who all did great jobs. Allison Williams’ upside down flying was jaw dropping. The Flying was brought to new levels although Cathy Rigby’s athletic flying was remarkable too. I loved how the Tinkerbell was a CG effect. In the “Making of Peter Pan Live” it’s fascinating to hear how they created this and how the actors had to memorize where to look. I can’t wait for the soundtrack to come out and I can download the show on ITunes to keep forever.

  21. Jerrilyn says:

    I loved it and even clapped for the fairy. It brought the kid out. All cast members were excellent. I will watch it again and again. Brought back such good memories looking at Peter Pan with the family

  22. SG says:

    I thought Live would be Live. Lip synching of songs and dialog. Made for even a less compelling production. Abysmal.

    • Denise says:

      I noticed that as well. It was very obvious in several places as her lips were noticeably out of synch with the music.

    • John says:

      They did not lip sync! Anyone could tell that from the breathes Allison Williams took during her flying scene. I wish fools would quit writing stupid comments.

  23. J.B. Lee says:

    I agree that the production, while technically impressive and child-friendly, fell flat, despite solid efforts by the cast. The producers may have had more of a background in film and TV, and thus lacked the understanding that a stage show draws its power from a live audience, and that in missing that give-and-take, the performers could not possibly project the necessary connection. One very pleasant surprise was Taylor Louderman, who displayed not only an on-track winsomeness as Wendy, but also a well-suited, obviously classically-trained voice, and who, with the astounding Kelli O’Hara and amusingly cavorting Christian Borle, lent real stage chops to an otherwise flat-as-film production.

  24. Carol says:

    Television worth watching is hard to come by. Peter Pan gave us a whimsical, child-friendly evening of entertainment. Yes, it had to be recorded for the little ones. No problem there. Reading comments, I am amazed that there are so many “experts” in the world who delight in sharing their learned opinions. Maybe NBC will hire all of you next time to make a production you might deem worthy of praise. Meanwhile, I am hoping for more programming of this type. Thanks, NBC!

  25. Donna Costello says:

    I think variety editors cannot relate to any reproduction of a previously performed live play. Peter Pan of Mary Martin days was a completely childlike play which my five year old daughter loved. I did also but that was close to thirty years ago. With the new age audience, I believe that the special effects out way the talents of The performers. We were not watching Stars Wars but classical story and musical with beautiful singing and wonderful songs

  26. lk says:

    I tried to watch, after about 45mins I simply couldn’t take it any longer. I wish I could find a positive but simply can’t.

  27. I enjoyed it very much.I am 62yrs old and there was a football game on but I kept switching back to peter pan.I thought Miss Williams did a fantastic job her dad should be very proud of her.I also think they should do more of live tv.

  28. Ed Short says:

    Sound of Music has a good story and great songs. Peter Pan is a boring story, and the music was unbearably dull. Peter Pan had no chance to avoid heavy post-show criticism from the moment NBC execs chose it.

    Williams was fine. Walken’s speak-singing was poor and detracted.
    Underwood in SoM was merely adequate, the overall SoM was *enjoyable*, whereas Peter Pan just had to be endured by the audience.

  29. Marty says:

    the problem is it can’t hold a candle to the Mary Martin/Cyril Ritchard/Sondra Lee version

  30. T. B. Weisberg says:

    Dear Mr. Lowery, Guess what??? This show was meant to be seen by children who dare to dream and adults who dare to reminisce. I refuse to believe that their mission ever was to satisfy cynical critics.

  31. S.L. Kotar says:

    There is nothing I dislike more than nepotism and nothing short of Christopher Walken could have induced me to watch “Peter Pan.” There is only one actor who ever surpassed her famous parent and that is Vanessa Redgrave. That said, Ms. Redgrave, please make room for Allison Williams. I was utterly stunned by her performance and actually the entire production had me mesmerized. And for all those “reviewers” who complain about seeing the wires, guess what? That’s how they flew. It reminds me of the scene from “Ed Wood” where Johnny Depp asks, “Haven’t you ever heard of suspension of disbelief?” If you want to see people actually weightless, apply to NASA. This is art, and for me, seeing the wires (in rare shots, at that) was like being allowed to share the creative process.

    • John says:

      Thank You for an for an intelligent comment. Allison Williams was great and no duh, unless you are in a theatre sitting 40 feet back you will see the wires. NBC Execs even talked about this saying they knew people would see the wires but hey, you have to suspend belief. It’s a fantasy!

    • Brian Lowry says:

      Not really sure “Ed Wood” (the real guy, not the movie) is the example you want to use by way of defending something. But for the record, I didn’t mention the wires and that didn’t bother me at all.

  32. Jill-O says:

    I can’t understand why the lost boys were so old. It was jarring every time they were onstage. Surely there must have been a few Billy Elliott cast members around to fill those parts. I also wish Christopher Walken were more epressive in his evilness, though it may just be that I can’t picture anyone else in that role, except Cyril Richards. Or perhaps Kevin Kline.

    • John says:

      The Lost Boys were so old because when a production uses kids under 18 they have to hire Tudors and it becomes very expensive. Once again people, more petty comments. Give them some credit for doing gymnastic moves off park benches. Great job Lost Boys!!

  33. Melissa Craig says:

    I have to say because it was so long we placed it on the DVR and choose to watch half live with the children and the second half today. My children loved it! I loved it. The sets, the singing, the production numbers, and we know the story well. Ms. Williams was wonderful as Peter Pan.

  34. Michael Sprowles says:

    I am not a movie critic…to this end, I really enjoyed “Peter Pan”. It was great..

  35. John says:

    I have seen hundreds of Broadway plays and think this production stood up very well. If this was acted out on a stage with an Orchestra pit and 40 feet separating the actors and the audience many of these ridiculous comments such as “the wiring was seen” would be completely asinine. Maybe NBC should just telecast a Broadway show on TV with the audience present, like A&E did with the Cathy Rigby version. To telecast a stage show this way has many benefits, such as audience reaction. Quit whining people and thank Allison Williams and the excellent producers for tackling this demanding challenge. It was very entertaining! Loved it 100%

  36. Rob says:

    Peter was okay. Hook seemed distracted. I fell asleep during second hour.

  37. Denise says:

    Are you SERIOUS? Obviously, you have never seen a top notch stage play. This was NOT “a great show/performance.” It was very amateur from the poor casting, bad performances, cadaverous makeup job on Walken, terrible lighting, obvious wiring during the flying scenes and was heavily relying on all the hype re: Brian Williams’ daughter in the starring role. They need to gut this whole production and start over. They can keep Nana though. She hit her marks and gave a charmed performance. 😉

    • John says:

      You are ridiculous Denise. The show was filled with amazing elements from beginning to end. I’ve seen the Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby versions which were both great. However those productions didn’t have lost boys who could dance like that, upside down flying, sets which lit up my HDTV. It’s not a stage version so the camera is right there and you are going to see the wires. Man, another cynical person who probably doesn’t do anything talented with her life and loves to criticize others.

      • Denise says:

        John, you are really childish attacking people and making asinine assumptions about their talent because they happen to disagree with you. I studied with The Royal Ballet at 6, took master classes with Edward Villella, and danced for 25 years, i.e. I know a little about dancing and stage production. As I said earlier, Allison Williams has a very pretty voice and I enjoyed Walken’s tap dancing, but this production was very low energy and amateurish in a lot of places, and I’m certainly not alone in this opinion.

  38. Spysmasher says:

    I thought Allison did a horrible job as Peter Pan. A Live production on TV is tough to pull off, but that’s no excuse for the poor quality displayed here. Every wire showed. Let’s face it, in the age of BluRay, you will be disappointed, and overall it was a dreary chore to watch! Except for certain people in from Ohio! And PS the ratings were terrible.

  39. John says:

    It’s so sad how cynical everyone in our country is responding. Why do we have to have “hate watching”? I hope that term dies! I believe is was created because loyal Sound of Music fans were afraid to see anyone play Maria besides Julie Andrews. Anyone, Thank You NBC for a great Broadway show and I didn’t have to spend $800 to take my family. Allison Williams and the entire cast and crew did a great job. It’s nice to see culture on TV for a change. I hope NBC continues putting Musical Theatre on TV! It was a fun, enjoyable, great show.

    • Alex says:

      I didn’t like SOM last year. I did like it when I saw it at the Muny a few years ago. Not liking last years performance was based on the fact that IMO it was awful. Have seen other versions of PP and enjoyed them, not this one. It was stiff, and the singing ranged from good to awful. Walken BUTCHERED the Hook songs.

  40. I thought Allison did a great job as Peter Pan. A Live production on TV is tough to pull off. Let’s face it, in the age of BluRay, you might be disappointed, but overall it was fun to watch! Kudos from Ohio!

  41. sharon says:

    Peter pan: native American Indians do not have curly hair…are not black and never saw one with red hair! The boys were way too old to play boys…where did they get them?…. at a fraternity? Wendy was supposed to be warm and pretty….this one had a cold hard kinda homely look and way to old to play the psrt. It was as if they were all reading their lines….all of tgem. Did not see any energy in any of them. Peter pan was way to tall and girlish to play that part… again bad acting.

    • Melissa Craig says:

      I am Native American (Pokagon band) with curly hair, it depend on which tribe you come from which area of the country. All tribes are different, and yes some Natives do have strands of red, especially in the Northeast, which are lighter skinned.

      • Wendy says:

        Melissa, as a Native American (and I thought “American Indian” was more p.c. since, for instance, Eskimos are Native Americans, too) did you appreciate the change in the words to “Ugg-a-Wugg” or think it was a stupid idea bearing in mind the story is told through the eyes of Edwardian children? (Well, I guess you can figure out how I feel about it; my post from a few days ago is below…)

  42. Wendy says:

    I was named for Wendy in Peter Pan, and I’ve always loved the play, story, and musical. Although I enjoyed this production to a certain extent, I was surprised at some of the choices made throughout, AND by the end, was baffled that it wasn’t a better performance all in all. In the beginning, I was taken by Allison Williams and her serious boyishness – which aligns with the book – but NOT with a musical production such as this one. She needed to lighten up. I won’t even go into C. Walken’s choices for his Captain Hook… (Did the Valium wear off by the end, when he showed a little more enthusiasm?) BUT, one thing (amongst others) that really bothered me was the change-up of words for Tiger Lily’s song and dance with the Indians – “Ugg-A-Wugg.” Come, on, everybody! If we’re being PC here, she should NOT have been wearing an exotic dancer’s costume; she looked like a stripper. THAT should have been insulting to the Native Americans, NOT the words to a song that were only to be in the imagination of a child anyway. A CHILD would NOT have fantasy Indians singing real American Indian words. Oh, and weren’t the children English, so wouldn’t they have stereotyped what American Indians would say?? They would, indeed, have them singing things like ‘ugg-a-wugg.’
    I loved many of the performances, so it was still a nice evening of TV watching for me. I hope NBC continues airing live musicals – and that they do it every year.

  43. Mark D Fitzgerald says:

    Where is Cyril Ritchard when you need him to play Captain Hook?

  44. Tor says:

    This production failed because Allison Williams lacked the ability to bring Peter to life. This Peter was devoid of self-confidence, energy, bravado and totally lacking charisma. Allison’s Peter was not a free spirit who is a naughty and adventurous young boy but a dullard that any child with a sense of adventure would shun.

    • John says:

      I disagree. Allison Williams did more with this role than any other Peter Pan. She flew amazingly, sang beautifully, talked to a Tink she couldn’t see (because Tink was CG), and she even flew upside down! She did a great job and was believable as a boy. This is an elaborate production and they all did a great job! Thank You NBC for bringing Broadway into our living room in a very amazing way!

  45. Becky says:

    I thought it was OK except for Walken. Couldn’t the producers and directors tell from rehearsals he wasn’t doing well at all? I couldn’t tell if he was just petrified, stoned or petrified stone.

    • S.L. Kotar says:

      Have you ever heard of a director? Clearly, Mr. Walken performed as directed.

    • John says:

      Agree! Christpher Walken is a fine actor, however, in the performance I thought he was sleep- walking or stoned. The make-up was terrible. Captain Hook is supposed to look dark and mean. I thought Christopher’s make-up was done by a mortician.

    • S. L. Kotar says:

      Clearly you don’t know or appreciate Mr. Walken. He gave the precise performance those of us who know and cherish his work expected. He adopted the style that was so popular from SNL and he made the perfect foil. What’s more, he looked as though he were having fun and as an audience viewer, that’s what I want to see!

  46. toestone says:

    Wow not very good ….Christopher Walken was about the worst Captain Hook…..
    .the sets were OK at some point childish……felt phoney like a soap opera… Really needs a live audience to pull it off… Did not play well on TV… All I could think was ….more cow bell…

  47. 3 Hours out of My Life says:

    Overstuffed and over-produced and yet peculiarly inert. No amount of swoopy swirly camerawork is gonna rescue a show as DOA as this one was…and Rob Ashford’s cameras sure were busy. I thought the Krofft reference in your review was brilliant. We’re placing bets on what venerable show NBC is gonna massacre next year; it has to be something cornball and family-friendly safe…I’m guessing The Music Man.

  48. I loved this production. It was fantastically well done and very inspiring. Christopher Walken was charming and funny and the whole cast was amazing. Much better than Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, which I didn’t care for.

  49. charcramer says:

    It really did drag. Allison Williams does not have the star power to carry a show. I hope for the next live production NBC casts a real star performer in the lead role. Someone who can act and sing! They are out there!

  50. Greta says:

    We had such fun watching Peter Pan! It was well casted and well played! Not over played, but smooth and joyful ! My child came out and my husband and I clapped Tinker Bell to life! What a great evening of wonderment and great fun entertainment!!!! thank you…….

    • Bob Klein says:

      You didn’t mention the sound and lighting. TV has forgotten how to mike and balance an orchestra and singers. The orchestra was tinny. The balance, especially in the first hour, had the accompaniment constantly crowding he singing. And the lighting was garish and, in the early scenes at the Darlings, laughably amateurish. I stayed because I love the songs and I hadn’t heard them in such a long time. O, memories of Mary Martin!

More TV News from Variety

Loading