Yes, I’m going to offer my opinion of Thursday’s (live) broadcast of Peter Pan, even though this seems to be a sacrilege to many in the musical theatre community. I don’t quite understand the “hey they’re doing the best they can” point of view. It’s not community theatre. These airings are generating millions of dollars.
Now; I appreciate how ambitious this was, and we were giddy as little girls to view it, but it was a mess.
1. It was a bad choice to cast ANY female in this role at this time, much less the extremely earnest Allison Williams who teetered between a fantastic impersonation of Keira Knightley and a whimsical young lesbian. THIS CONFUSED KIDS FIFTY YEARS AGO. I know, I was one of them. Made worse by inclusion of new “romantic” material between Wendy and Peter. This doesn’t “fly” anymore, and I think we witnessed the death knell. This had to be confusing to kids.
2. Maybe these live shows should be done in front of a live audience. It would add excitement and context that might make it easier for kids to forgive certain theatrical devices. Wires, clapping for fairies, et al.
3. Audra McDonald, last year, and Kelli O’Hara, this year prove: Maybe people who have won Tonys for musical theatre know what they’re doing? Really. Miss O’Hara outclassed the proceedings in a matter of moments, and Christian Borle would have done the same thing if he hadn’t been so strangely miscast as Smee.
4. What WAS with Christian Borle playing Smee as a hunky, gay best friend of Johnny Depp? And then showing up as Mr. Darling, which is usually played by Hook?
5. And speaking of Hook ... really? This is one of the great scenery-chewing roles any man can play on stage, and, besides offering the best 'live' moments of the show (The fabulously uncomfortable “PETAH ... HAS ... FOOOUUUUNNND ... A ... MOOOTHAAAA?” over the span of ten seconds and the inexplicable holding of a long note during a commercial break -- my favorite moment of the night), Christopher Walken seemed on cold medicine. Except for the charming tap dance moment, he indeed offered that last-hour-of-the-Jerry-Lewis-telethon energy that was at times dangerous and at times boring. I’m sure he looked like a good idea on paper -- “He’s great on SNL", some executive must have said. But, sometime within the last five days, the director had to go, “OMG, is he gonna bring it?” Only for moments at a time.
6. Could they have found a gayer chorus of lost boys and pirates? That tree clubhouse must’ve seen A LOT of action. Was this done to make Ms Williams seem more like a boy and less like a British girl who plays table-tennis?
7. And finally: The last twenty years of Broadway have provided a plethora of wonderful musicals for family audiences-use one of them next time. This show was a “quaint creaker” when I was in it 45 years ago and time hasn’t been kind.
There was no need to add mediocre material to cover the loss of un-PC numbers. Less would have been more. And it’s always been problematic that Peter launches into a haunting ballad forty-five seconds after the previous song.
It was pretty in an expensive Super Bowl McDonald’s commercial kinda way.
When is ABC/Disney gonna go ... ”Oh ... you wanna see this done well?”
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