Tri-State Theater

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Peter Pan Live"

   I'm running late, but I finally got a chance to see Peter Pan Live, the NBC production that adapted the Broadway show for a live TV production (thanks, DVR).

   And I have to admit, I enjoyed it - mostly. (There's apparently a cottage industry of haters out there who spring up to pick these shows apart, having started with last season's Sound of Music. That's fine, it's a free country, but I for one love seeing the networks tackle these live productions.)

   I thought the show was impressive, with some terrific talent on display. Allison Williams did an excellent job in the title role - she has an excellent singing voice and the physicality to manage the high-flying effects.  

   Christopher Walken took some chances in the role of Captain Hook, playing it in a more subdued, comic style (as opposed to the usual manic approach). Still, he's a heck of a hoofer and he earned quite a few laughs along the way.

   The rest of the cast was excellent, with strong performances across the board.

   The production values were terrific, with absolutely stunning sets, costumes and camera work on display - I was especially impressed to see the cast fly from their bedroom to the skies over London and then to Neverland, all in one musical sequence.

   The choreography was excellent, the re-worked numbers (especially Tiger Lilly's song) we very good, and I even liked the edits and additions.

   So what didn't I like? Well, I don't understand why Michael and John were played by kids, but the Lost Boys were played by grown men (though at least they cast men with boyish features - and certainly they're all talented performers). I can understand using adults for a long-running show, but for a one-off like this, surely they could round up enough talented young performers.

   I'm not sure why the father of the kids was doubled in as Smee, instead of Captain Hook - was it too difficult to manage the makeup change in time? Seems like a shame to miss Walken in both roles.

   The final swordfight sequence between Hook and Pan was pretty tame - surely they could make it a little more convincing (and here I admit I'm getting picky).

   But my biggest gripe is the one I've had with this show since I saw the Mary Martin version as a kid - namely, why do they always cast a woman in the title role? (Even as a child, I never believed for a second that Martin was a boy.) Again, I understand the reason behind casting a woman in a (potentially) long-running Broadway or touring show - and there's no denying the talent of the women who have tackled the role, including Martin, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigsby and now Williams - but just once I'd like to see a production with the courage to cast an actual boy (or teen or young man) as Pan - it would be interesting to see a different take, and again, for a one-time production, it could be managed.

   Still, none of that is to take away from this excellent production. Hopefully the networks will continue to adapt stage shows for Broadcast - especially if it helps spark interest in live theatre!

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