Friday, December 5, 2014

Peter Pan

I watched the "live" musical of Peter Pan on NBC last night. (By the time we saw it in California, anyway, it was recorded.) This in itself is not incredibly surprising as apparently a lot of people did. What's a little stranger is that I actually watched two Peter Pans last night. This is because a Slate review I happened to read just after led me to a YouTube of the Mary Martin production of 1960. The whole thing. I was only going to watch the beginning to see how they compared, but I ended up watching it all. A long marathon isn't usually my style of television watching, but the current show left my brain wondering about the same/different feel that pervaded my experience. Because it is some ways very faithful, and in some ways very different.

I enjoyed the current show, and Allison Williams and Christopher Walken have nothing to be embarrassed about in their performances. That said, Mary Martin and Cyril Richards set a very high bar which I don't think they quite achieved. Oddly, the mechanisms of flying were much less apparent in the original and I thought that the crocodile was much better. And I thought the costumed Nana gave more to her role than the real dog cast last night, though that was not its fault. You can see why the current production wanted to modify the slightly cringemaking scenes with Tigerlily and the Indians (why was she blond?), but there too I found the dance scenes quite interesting despite this. And the whimsical dancing animals had been left out last night, which I think was a loss. In general, the new songs added to compensate for leaving out old ones didn't really do much for me, and it was a loss to leave out the role where Martin showed her range, playing a boy masquerading as a woman with very impressive range. And personally I liked the Lost Boys being played by real boys, and not admittedly talented adult dancers.

Anyway, through the wonders of modern technology, I herewith present the whole 1960 show. This version is, I think, colorized. In the hoary past that is childhood, we watched it in black and white and I don't remember the magic of it being diminished one iota.

Without further ado,  I give you Peter Pan.

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