I’d like to start by saying I think it’s incredible that NBC is doing live musicals on TV. According to The Hollywood Reporter, last year “The Sound of Music” had 18.5 million viewers and this years “Peter Pan” had 21.8 million. There was much discussion in my house about the show last night. I didn’t plan to write on it, but alas, I couldn’t hold back.
The Broadway stars shone brightly: Kelli O’Hara as Mrs. Darling was dignified, beautiful and her songs were heavenly. If you weren’t enticed by Chrisitan Borle’s arms, you had to have been won over by his quirky portrayal of Smee. Although I prefer Smee to be more plump with a full beard, Christian’s facial expressions, line delivery and witty sense of humor had me in the first scene. Taylor Louderman who played Wendy was the best cast member of the bunch. She had a girly innocence and glowing smile. She was soft, sweet and also challenged the lost boys to learn and grow.
Too pretty to be Peter Pan: Allison Williams is a lovely girl. The makeup and wig couldn’t hide that. Her smile was captivating but that’s not what should be sticking out in my mind. After her first song “I Gotta Crow” she was breathless. Heck, during the song she was having a hard time holding the notes. She sang pretty but I was hoping for a much more rough and rugged Peter Pan. Thankfully she started to let loose more during the second hour of the production.
Who the heck is Tiger Lily?: No wonder the original Tiger Lily from the 1955 version stated she would not be watching. She would have been utterly confused! There was no dialogue on who she was. Since one of her songs was cut and the lyrics were changed in her song with Peter, her part seemed very out of place.
The elephant in the room: Christopher Walken. I didn’t know if I should cringe or laugh out of sheer awkwardness. When he first did a tap dance and clanked his foot with his hook I was amused. All of his lines seemed to make no sense whatsoever. He lacked emotion until the very end which made it hard to connect with him at all. Though I must say, his little hip twirls and odd dance moves were entertaining.
Lost Boys: I was happy to see Broadway guys Ryan Steele, Jason Gotay and others. However, the lost boys are supposed to be young. Michael and John Darling were adorable. I would have preferred kids their age and sprinkle in a few older boys. Grab some of those kids from MATILDA. They could have done the job!
Songs: “Peter Pan” is a classic for a reason; the songs. Then why were songs added and cut in this version? It is better to leave something that is good alone. Or at least only tweak a few things.
Set design: Did we find Neverland or Alice in Wonderland’s fantasy world? Everything was too bright. Less is more in my opinion. We are supposed to be entering a fantasy land made up by kids. This seemed way over the top and too fluffy. I wish it was scaled back. At one point Peter says how Wendy likes things prim and proper. Their place is already spic and span and yet the lost boys launch into a song about building a house for Wendy. The house is made already so all that’s left to do is dance.
There is so much more I could say about the show but instead, I’d love to hear others opinions. I welcome comments, difference in opinion and feedback. The best thing about theater is what works for some, doesn’t work for others. That’s part of what makes it a truly magical experience.