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Dear Diary: Tomorrow 'Peter Pan' Is On - Again!
December 3, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 5 comments

On Thursday, Dec. 4, NBC presents Peter Pan Live!, a live musical telecast about Peter, Wendy, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and the rest. I happen to have reviewed it the last time NBC performed it live – in 1960…

Back then, though, I was writing for an audience of one, and technically had yet to learn to write, at least in school. But at age 7, in my diary entry for Dec. 7, 1960, I wrote with obvious enthusiasm: “Dear Diary, Today I am too tickled because tomorrow Peter Pan is on.”

And it came on, and it was good.

Now, seeking to recapture the ratings magic that greeted last year’s The Sound of Music Live!, the network is mounting another ambitious, and in these days unusual, special. Allison Williams from HBO’s Girls has the title role, and Christopher Walken co-stars as Captain Hook. It sounds as magical to me now as the original version, with Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, did then.   

And speaking of sounds, today I did an advance report on the new Peter Pan, and replayed some of the old version, on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. You can hear it, and read it, on the Fresh Air website.

And after that, make plans to watch at 8 p.m. ET Thursday as NBC presents Peter Pan Live! – because the live element is as key, and magical, an ingredient as pixie dust. Gather the family. Make snacks.

Then, with help from television, make some new memories…

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Ed Quigley
I would've loved to watch the show live with the family and make snacks but it didn't end till 11 pm. What family can keep their kids up till 11 on a school night? I DVR'd it so we'll watch this weekend.
Dec 5, 2014   |  Reply
Am I alone in questioning the nepotism in the casting of Allison Williams (Brian's daughter) in a starring role in a live production on NBC? Admittedly I didn't see it, and it's possible she might have hit it out of the ballpark last night, but there have to be many better choices for the role of Peter. (Kristen Chenoweth comes to mind instantly, and height-wise, might have been more in keeping with the Mary Martin model.)
Dec 5, 2014   |  Reply
Lauraine Esparza
Anyone else terribly disappointed in Christopher Walkins' Hook?? Absolutely no comparison to cyril richard....lifeless and lackluster. What a bust for someone like me who can still sing all the songs from memory!
Dec 5, 2014   |  Reply
Because I've anchored my career in the Neverland, alongside Captain Hook's pirate ship, I enjoyed your review on "Fresh Air with Terry Gross." I am, however, surprised that with all the fun of NBC's live broadcast, I've heard no one mention the fact that this month celebrates the 110th anniversary of Peter's first flight. "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" by J.M. Barrie hit the boards at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, in December of 1904. Over a century later, we're still living in the Neverland, and re-imagining his story -- the story that, like Peter himself, will never grow old. I ought to know. I re-wrote "Peter Pan" for grown-ups, in a serious parody that questions the original work's premise. In "Hook & Jill," I've made sure to remain true to J.M. Barrie's vision, which I honor and respect. Thanks for reminding me of the excitement and anticipation that Mary Martin's version brought to my own childhood.
Dec 4, 2014   |  Reply
Any truth to the rumor that Walken is insisting that the "sound" of Tinker Bell be played by a cowbell instead of the traditional celeste?
Dec 3, 2014   |  Reply
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