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Peter Pan Live!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Pan Live!
Peter Pan Live! Poster.jpg
Promotional poster
GenreMusical drama
Based onPeter Pan
by J.M. Barrie
Written byIrene Mecchi
Directed byRob Ashford
Glenn Weiss
Presented byNBC
Narrated byMinnie Driver
Composer(s)Moose Charlap
Jule Styne
Carolyn Leigh
Betty Comden
Adolph Green
Amanda Green[1]
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Donna Suchan Smeland
Original networkNBC
Original releaseDecember 4, 2014 (2014-12-04)
Preceded byThe Sound of Music Live!
Followed byThe Wiz Live!

Peter Pan Live! is a television special that was broadcast by NBC on December 4, 2014. The special featured a live production of the 1954 musical adaptation of Peter Pan, televised from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York, starring Allison Williams in the title role and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

The production was a follow-up to The Sound of Music Live!—a similar adaptation of the 1959 play The Sound of Music which aired on NBC in December 2013 and brought the network's highest Thursday-night ratings since 2004. NBC's entertainment head Bob Greenblatt would sign Craig Zadan and Neil Meron—who served as the executive producers of the special, to produce another live musical for the 2014 holiday season. Additionally, the production served as a follow-up to three productions of Peter Pan produced for NBC in 1955, 1956, and 1960 that featured cast members from its original Broadway run. While similar in content to the original, the version of Peter Pan featured in the special contained revisions to its book to emphasize the character of Captain Hook, along with additional songs from its revivals, new songs adapted from the musicals Do Re Mi and Say, Darling, and the restoration of a song that had been cut from the musical before its original Broadway premiere.


Development and production

In December 2013, NBC presented The Sound of Music Live!—a live adaptation of the Broadway musical The Sound of Music that starred country music performer and singer Carrie Underwood and was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. After bringing NBC's highest Thursday night ratings for entertainment programming since 2004,[6] NBC's entertainment head Bob Greenblatt announced that the network would present another live musical for the 2014 holiday season, and that it had signed Meron and Zadan on to continue their role as producers. Greenblatt felt that there were enough recognizable, family-friendly musicals to make live musicals an annual tradition, and noted that various theatrical rightsholders had expressed interest in having their musicals adapted for television in this manner.[7] In January 2014, NBC announced that its next musical would be an adaptation of the 1954 musical Peter Pan.[8] This would not be the first time that NBC had broadcast a live production of Peter Pan, as a presentation featuring Mary Martin, Cyril Ritchard, and its original Broadway cast was presented by NBC on March 7, 1955, as part of the anthology series Producers' Showcase. The telecast, produced by Fred Coe, was one of the highest-rated programs in the early history of television,[9][10] Martin and Ritchard would reprise their roles in another live presentation in 1956, along with a color presentation in 1960 that was videotaped and rebroadcast several times afterwards.[11]

Produced on a $10 million budget and broadcast live from the Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York, the staff from The Sound of Music Live! was carried over to Peter Pan, including Zadan and Meron, along with David Chase as music director and Derek McLane as production designer. Whilst producing The Sound of Music Live!, Zadan and Meron shared a fondness for creating what Meron described as "moments of theatricality"—a practice that carried over into Peter Pan Live!. Meron emphasized that the production would not be bound to the limitations of a traditional stage setting, allowing for larger sets, and "dynamic" camera angles and flying sequences. In total, he described the production as a "total balls-out musical."[12][13] The production employed a CGI version of Tinker Bell: rendered live and controlled by a technician, it expressed emotions and thoughts by changing its size and color.[13]

Allison Williams, star of the HBO series Girls and daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, was cast as Peter Pan, continuing an established tradition of females portraying the title character of the musical.[10][12] Actor Christopher Walken was cast as Captain Hook; Walken showed uncertainty for his role in the production due to its unique format, noting that "when you do a [stage] show, even if it isn’t a hit, you’re in previews for a few weeks and you get comfortable in the role. This is rehearsed as a stage show, but then the cameras are there. I’m never even sure when the camera is on me." In total, the production featured 46 cast members, and a production crew of at least 350 members.[10][12]

Admitting that Peter Pan was not as much of a "bona fide classic" as The Sound of Music, Meron's crew was given flexibility in revising the show's contents. Irene Mecchi — who is best known for her screenwriting contributions to films such as The Lion King – was brought in to "strengthen and deepen" the portrayal of Captain Hook in the production.[12] Revisions were also made to its soundtrack, including the addition of new songs with lyrical adaptations by Amanda Green, the daughter of Adolph Green, who, with Jule Styne and Betty Comden, added some songs for later productions, including "Never Never Land".[1] New songs added to the production included the Captain Hook song "Vengeance", an adaptation of "Ambition" from the Styne-Comden-Green musical Do Re Mi, "Only Pretend", adapted from "I Know About Love", also from Do Re Mi, and the Peter and Hook duet "A Wonderful World Without Peter", adapted from “Something’s Always Happening On The River” from the Styne-Comden-Green musical Say, Darling. "When I Went Home", a song sung by Peter that was cut before the musical's 1954 premiere due to a "subdued" reaction in try-outs, was also restored for this production; Meron explained that the song would help viewers to "understand more" about the character of Peter Pan.[1][12] "Oh My Mysterious Lady", a song written with Mary Martin in mind, was cut from the show[1][12] while the song "Ugg-a-Wugg", which contained racially insensitive lyrics, was rewritten into a new song entitled "True Blood Brothers."[1][12]

As in The Sound of Music Live!, Walmart served as a major sponsor of the telecast. NBC produced five themed Walmart commercials starring Melissa Joan Hart and her family, to air throughout the special. The commercials featured allusions to Peter Pan and presentations of products from the store.[14][15]

Musical numbers and soundtrack

A soundtrack was released on both digital and physical format by Broadway Records on December 16, 2014.[16]

  1. "Tender Shepherd" – Mrs. Darling, Wendy, Michael, John
  2. "I Gotta Crow" – Peter
  3. "Neverland" – Peter
  4. "I'm Flying" – Peter, Wendy, Michael, John
  5. "Pirate March" – The Pirates
  6. "Vengeance" – Hook and the Pirates
  7. "Hook's Tango" – Hook and the Pirates
  8. "Wendy" – Peter and the Lost Boys
  9. "Hook's Tarantella" – Hook and the Pirates
  10. "I Won't Grow Up" – Peter, the Lost Boys, Wendy, Michael, John
  11. "Only Pretend" – Wendy
  12. "Wonderful World Without Peter" – Peter and Hook
  13. "True Blood Brothers" – Peter, Tiger Lily, Lost Boys, Indians, Wendy, Michael, John
  14. "Distant Melody" – Wendy and Mrs. Darling
  15. "When I Went Home" – Peter
  16. "I'm Flying" (reprise) – Peter
  17. "Hook's Waltz" – Hook and the Pirates
  18. "I Gotta Crow" (reprise) – Peter and the company
  19. "Only Pretend" (reprise) / "Tender Shepherd" (reprise) – Mrs. Darling, Wendy, Michael, John
  20. "I Won't Grow Up" (reprise) – Mr. and Mrs. Darling, Wendy, Michael, John, the Lost Boys, Nana
  21. "Finale Ultimo: Neverland (reprise)" – Peter


Peter Pan Live! aired on the night of December 4, 2014 on NBC and was met with immediate public and critical reactions, both positive and negative. After a mediocre reception to the network's The Sound of Music Live! from 2013, many viewers were wary of the new production. Lead actress Allison Williams warned viewers in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “I will say this about last year: today’s audiences like to watch things cynically. And I’m on a show that’s cynical in tone so I’m no stranger to that … Hate-watching is a thing. It’s a whole way of watching something, and it’s not an audience that’s natural to a non-cynical performance. Peter Pan, you cannot watch cynically. If you do, you’re going to hate it, no question. It falls apart instantly.”[17] She said almost the opposite to NPR, which reported that NBC expected that "hate-watchers" would help the event to succeed.[18] Viewers shared their opinions on social media platforms using the hashtag #PeterPanLive and on the live blog on The Guardian's website, which gave such notes as: "As long and draggy and nonsensical as the show was, NBC didn’t spare any expense with the talent or production and they really pulled it off."[19][20]

While many reviewers expressed relief that the broadcast did not experience any major problems, critical reviews were mixed overall.[21] The New Yorker panned the broadcast, especially Williams and Walken.[22] The Associated Press called the production "an oddly ponderous, disconnected, disjointed and jerky mess. If it had been a Broadway show, it would have gotten the hook (pun intended)."[23] The New York Daily News gave it two of five stars, writing that "we just weren't feeling the pixie dust".[24] Likewise, Variety called it "a woefully lifeless production".[25]

The A.V. Club's Caroline Siede gave the production a B+, calling it superior to the previous year's performance and a "colorful, competent, occasionally moving piece of musical theater", but assessing Williams as less strong a singer than Underwood.[26] USA Today gave it a mostly positive review for the production, but questioned the new material.[27] Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly also gave it a mixed review calling it "Totally fine. ... Nothing spectacular. But nothing so embarrassing as NBC’s live production of The Sound of Music".[28] The Hollywood Reporter gave the production a rave review, highlighting both Williams' and Walken's performances saying, "It was a night where everything else about the play was shunted to the side as Williams and Walken grabbed your attention. Everything that could go wrong didn't go wrong and that's a credit the myriad people behind the scenes who pulled it off."[29]


Peter Pan Live! was seen in its original airing by 9.21 million viewers with a ratings share of 2.4/7 among adults 18–49, making it the most-watched program of the night across the major networks—but trailing a Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network, which brought 9.1 million viewers, but had a larger 18–49 share of 3.2/10. The special also brought NBC its second-highest 18–49 ratings on Thursday night entertainment programming since The Sound of Music Live! before being surpassed by The Wiz Live! a year later. Greenblatt did not expect viewership for Peter Pan Live! to be as high as that of The Sound of Music Live!, but still felt that NBC had a "great night", and thanked the cast and crew for their involvement in "three months of the hardest work I’ve ever seen."[30] Nielsen also estimated that over 475,000 posts were made about the telecast on Twitter, which were seen 106.9 million times—more than double the number of views that tweets during The Sound of Music Live! received.[30] The special retained 61% of its viewership, from beginning to end.[31]

A behind-the-scenes special, The Making of Peter Pan Live!, was broadcast by NBC on November 26, 2014[11] and seen by 3.02 million viewers.[32] NBC showed an encore presentation of Peter Pan Live! on Saturday, December 13, 2014.[33] The rebroadcast was seen by 1.5 million viewers.[34]

Peter Pan Live! was included as part of 'The Shows Must Go On' series of musicals launched by Andrew Lloyd Webber on YouTube in response to Covid-19. It was originally intended to be available for 48 hours from the 5th of June 2020, however in response to the Black Lives Matter movement it was postponed until the 20th of June 2020[35][36].


In 2014, in season 40 of Saturday Night Live, the cast parodied the special, with guest star James Franco as Captain Hook, Cecily Strong as Peter Pan, Kate McKinnon as Wendy, Aidy Bryant as Tonkerbell, Tinkerbell's half-sister who is part housefly and part fairy.[37]

Home media release

A DVD of the special was released on December 16, 2014,[38] through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes the behind-the-scenes special, The Making of Peter Pan Live!.


  1. ^ a b c d e "All about the new songs in 'Peter Pan Live!' -- and how the show's handling 'Ugg-a-Wugg'". Inside TV. Entertainment Weekly. 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
  2. ^ a b Highfill, Samantha (2014-09-22). "'Peter Pan Live!' casts its Wendy and Tiger Lily". Inside TV. Retrieved 2014-09-22.
  3. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam (2014-10-07). "Handful of Broadway Newsies Make Up Peter Pan's Lost Boys and Swashbuckling Pirates". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 6, 2014). "Christian Borle To Play Smee & Mr. Darling In NBC's 'Peter Pan' Live Musical". Deadline. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  5. ^ TV News Desk (2014-09-09). "Breaking News: Tony Nominee Kelli O'Hara Heads to NBC's PETER PAN LIVE". Broadway World. Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  6. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (December 6, 2013). "Ratings: NBC's Sound of Music Live! Does Something Very Good; Glee and Grey's Eye Lows". TVLine. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Carter, Bill (December 9, 2013). "NBC Says It Will Put On a Show, Again". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  8. ^ Frizell, Sam (January 19, 2014). "NBC Announces 'Peter Pan' for Next Live Production". Time. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Tino Balio. "COE, FRED". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  10. ^ a b c "Hate The Idea Of 'Peter Pan Live'? NBC Is Counting On It". NPR. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  11. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam. "Minnie Driver Will Fly to NBC's Peter Pan Live!; Making Of Special Sets Air Date", November 5, 2014. Accessed December 5, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "NBC Hopes 'Peter Pan Live' Can Fly to New Heights". Variety. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Tinkerbell will be computer generated in 'Peter Pan Live!'-see video". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Wal-Mart's Peter Pan 'Warr' Room". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Walmart Takes Big Role in 'Peter Pan Live!'". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  16. ^ BWW News Desk (December 15, 2014). "PETER PAN LIVE! Album Now Available on iTunes!". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  17. ^ Hibberd, James (2014-12-03). "Allison Williams says you cannot hate-watch 'Peter Pan Live'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  18. ^ Deggans, Eric (2014-12-04). "Hate The Idea Of 'Peter Pan Live'? NBC Is Counting On It". NPR. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  19. ^ Moylan, Brian (2014-12-04). "Peter Pan Live! - as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  20. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (December 5, 2014). "'Peter Pan Live!' Grows 121% Versus NBC's Non-sports Thursday Season Average". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  21. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "The Verdict: Read Reviews of Peter Pan Live! on NBC", Playbill, December 4, 2014
  22. ^ Larson, Sarah. "Peter Pan Live! and a Night of Protests", The New Yorker, December 5, 2014
  23. ^ Kennedy, Mark (2014-12-04). "TV Review: NBC's 'Peter Pan' Falls Sadly Flat". Associated Press. ABC News. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  24. ^ Hinckley, David. "Peter Pan Live! review: NBC musical starring Allison Williams, Christopher Walken fails to take flight", New York Daily News, December 5, 2014
  25. ^ Lowry, Brian. "TV Review: Peter Pan Live!", Variety, December 5, 2014
  26. ^ Siede, Caroline (December 4, 2014). "Peter Pan Live!". The A.V. Club.
  27. ^ Bianco, Robert (2014-12-04). "'Peter' not panned in NBC's live broadcast". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  28. ^ Maerz, Melissa (2014-12-04). "'Peter Pan Live' review: So was it really as bad as you'd hoped?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  29. ^ Goodman, Tim (2014-12-04). "'Peter Pan Live!': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  30. ^ a b "'Peter Pan Live' Ratings: Not 'Sound of Music' Big But Strong for NBC Thursday". Variety. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  31. ^ Patten, Dominic (December 5, 2014). ‘Peter Pan Live!’ Ratings Down 47% From ‘Sound Of Music’ Last Year, ‘The Taste’ Debuts Down – Update. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  32. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (December 1, 2014). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' Rebroadcast Adjusted Up". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  33. ^ Cerasaro, Pat (December 13, 2014). "PETER PAN LIVE! Flies Again Tonight On NBC". Broadway World. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  34. ^ "TV Ratings Saturday: 'Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer' Outshines 'UFC on FOX', '48 Hours' Beats '20/20′". TV By the Numbers. December 14, 2014. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  35. ^ "An Update On This Weekend's Show".
  36. ^ "The Shows Must Go On: Peter Pan Live starring Christopher Walken and Allison Williams to be streamed online for free".
  37. ^ Peter Pan Live! - SNL, retrieved 2019-09-12
  38. ^ BWW News Desk (December 15, 2014). "PETER PAN LIVE! DVD Now Available to Order". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved June 5, 2015.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 7 November 2020, at 19:02
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