Bumpy flight to Neverland


Aubrey Trecek, Arts and Entertainment Editor

There was nothing that any theater geek looks forward to more than having their passion exposed to the rest of the world. This led to the aspiration for Peter Pan Live! to be decent. Sadly, the musical left a lot to be desired. That being said, it was not the embarrassing train wreck that last year’s Sound of Music Live! was.

In the title role, Allison Williams had a convincing British accent. Overall, she was confident, lively, and an impeccable Peter Pan. She also showed that she is the owner of a charming singing voice; however, Williams’s breathing technique is easily disapproved of by any amateur singer. Williams chooses to breathe through her teeth instead of opening her mouth for air, which would not only be more effective for her, but would also look and sound superior.

Christopher Walken, as Captain Hook, was easily the most publicized actor in this production, even more so than the woman playing the lead role. After seeing the show, it is obvious that this was completely unjustified. Walken can dance brilliantly, but that was apparently his only talent in the musical. Walken had no facial expression throughout the entire show; it was as if he had overdosed on Botox five minutes before call time. He used an unintelligible accent, and that was only when he remembered his lines at all. His singing was faint, and honestly more like speak singing than actual singing. Walken’s performance felt as if he was mocking the musical instead of making it better.

The musical numbers that did not feature Walken were excellent. “I’m Flying” was a wonder to behold, even though the actors’ wires were visible. The producers took a large liberty by completely changing around Tiger Lily’s (Alanna Saunders) main number, “Ugg-a-Wugg” and turning it into a song they called “True Blood Brothers.” They feared offending Native Americans, but it felt like the same racism with a different song. Unfortunately, avoiding Native American stereotypes is not possible in a production of Peter Pan. There were two newly added songs that showed the darker side of Peter Pan and of his twisted relationship with Wendy. “Only Pretend” allowed Wendy to show her fears about Peter’s intentions. “When I Went Home”, performed well by Williams, displays how Peter Pan became selfish and arrogant while hiding his true feelings behind his boyish bravery. The numbers “Wendy” and “Never Grow Up”, two favorites, were well performed by Peter and the Lost Boys.

Though the Lost Boys were all excellent dancers, they all appeared to be in their late 20’s, ruining the illusion that they were the only thing their characters demanded out of them, boys. Their costumes seemed to come from German schoolchildren, as if they were simply reused from last year’s Sound of Music Live! Obviously building Neverland means that the set will have to be whimsical and imaginative; however, this set looked like a Dr. Seuss acid trip.

Similar to last year’s production, the Broadway veterans stole the show. Kelli O’Hara, a five time Tony award nominee, brought me to tears as Mrs. Darling. Christian Borle brilliantly pulled double duty as Smee and Mr. Darling. Finally, Taylor Louderman was absolutely magnificent as Wendy. She commanded the entire musical.

Next year, perhaps NBC should fill its next live show, The Music Man, with Broadway stars. I am hopeful that that the third time will be the charm.