Peter Pan Live! at The Shows Must Go On! Online
Universal’s YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On! is premiering free, recorded musicals every Friday at 7pm. It’s a treat for the whole family, which has also raised many thousands of dollars for theatrical charities. Having aired many of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions previously, this time they turned to Peter Pan Live! that was originally broadcasted on NBC in December 2014.
Unfortunately, it would not be a spoiler to say that the original broadcast received woeful reviews. The general consensus was that Allison Williams (of Girls and Get Out fame) was miscast as Peter, and it’s hard to disagree. Peter is a role that requires energy, cheek and a spark but Williams is a screen actress with no musical theatre experience. It feels like stunt casting given that nothing she’s played before would suggest she was a natural Peter and 2014 was the height of Girls mania.
The story is magical as always but ran fairly long at two hours and fifteen minutes and caused Williams to seem nervous. The production was a mixture of theatre and television elements. There were no special effects to depict the flying but very detailed costume and set design captured from multiple angles. Peter Pan Live! was based on the musical that premiered on Broadway in 1954 with music by Moose Charlap, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and Mary Martin as Peter. There were a few new numbers added to the original, most notably Vengeance.
The problem is it’s hard to recreate magic onstage, as by its nature magic is hard to define. Once fairy dust has been sprinkled, it’s hard to collect again.
The production design by Derek McLane was suitably psychedelic and the pirates’ outfits by costume designer Catherine Zuber were visually sumptuous; so swag that they must have been a dream to create.
In an inspired bit of casting, the menacing hair and stare of cult film star Christopher Walken is put to use in his role as Captain Hook. He plays Hook with a louche deadpan air that is refreshing. Walken originally trained as a dancer before moving on to acting, so he was able to dust off his tap shoes for the rendition of the new song Vengeance, which was enjoyable to experience.
However, overall Peter Pan Live! felt under-rehearsed and there were a mixture of elements that didn’t come together.
Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Peter Pan Live! is available from 19th June 2020.
Watch Peter Pan Live! here: