|Mary Martin as Peter Pan.|
In Ronald L. Davis' book Mary Martin, Broadway Legend, the author includes this quote from Ms. Martin: "Peter Pan is perhaps the most important thing, to me, that I have ever done in theater." That's high praise from a legendary star who is also identified with two Rodgers and Hammerstein classic stage musicals: South Pacific and The Sound of Music.
Whole books have been devoted to the history of James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which was originally written as a play in 1904 and later transformed into a novel (also known as Peter and Wendy). Actually, Peter made his first appearance as a character in Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird (portions of which were later published as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens). Barrie bequeathed all profits from Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.
|Martin was 41--but didn't look|
From the beginning, the intent was to mount a stage musical and then "film" it for NBC television. Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh wrote the songs for the original version, which included now-favorites "I've Gotta Crow" and "I'm Flying." After a West Coast tryout, director Robbins decided to add more songs and turned to Jule Styne (already a popular songwriter) and Betty Comden and Adolph Green (who had teamed with Leonard Bernstein for On the Town). The most notable contributions from Styne, Comden and Green were the songs "Never Never Land" and "Wendy."
|Cyril Ritchard made a delightful|
The stage musical was then recreated on NBC's sound stages for Producer's Showcase and broadcast in March 1955. It was both a popular and critical success, earning Mary Martin an Emmy. NBC showed another live telecast with the same cast the following year. Then, in 1960, NBC mounted a third production, which was recorded as a stand-alone television special. This version was subsequently rebroadcast on NBC in 1963, 1966, 1973, and 1989. It has since been shown on the Disney Channel and released on DVD.
|Sandy Duncan as Peter.|
|Mia Farrow and Danny Kaye.|
That brings us back to NBC’s Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams as Peter and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook. I hope it captures the spirit of the original, which Mary Martin described aptly in the aforementioned biography: “Neverland is the way I would like real life to be...timeless, free, mischievous, filled with gaiety, tenderness, and magic."