NBC’s recent live version of the PETER PAN musical had less viewers than THE SOUND OF MUSIC did last year. But performances levels were much more even in PETER PAN.
Whereas Carrie Underwood, in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, was outperformed by the actors around, Allison Williams, as the boy Peter Pan, gave a strong performance. Of course, she sounded very much like a woman, but with the theatre’s suspension of disbelief, that was no deterrent to the viewer’s enjoyment of the piece.
It was also difficult for her in that Christopher Walken came close to stealing the show as the comic villain Captain Hook. His pirate character makes the comic relief in a great story with an underlying sadness.
While most of us move from childhood to adulthood with at least some enthusiasm, this transition was painful to James Matthew Barrie, the author of the original Peter Pan play. Wendy becomes an adult while Pan remains a boy. The bittersweetness of their inevitable separation makes the story all the more memorable.
As the much of MY FAIR LADY’S greatness is due to George Bernard Shaw, so is much of PETER PAN’S power due to Barrie. It should also be said that while a number of people contributed to PETER PAN’s songs, it is the music of Jule Styne that stays with us.