NBC hewed with the standard set by Mary Martin in the ‘50s and went with Peter Pan being played by an adult woman–and a classically feminine-looking one at that. The result was a lot of hilarious queer subtext—hilarious not because a bunch of women in a love quadrangle is inherently funny, but because it was so obvious that NBC had no intention of creating that subtext. The plot has something to do with all women wanting sex from Peter while he calls them “Mother”; also hilarious, but also depressingly unintentional.
“Peter Pan Live!” was, to be fair, executed adequately. It’s competent, and not a lot more than that.
Look, this was bad. We shouldn’t have to say this at the start of a review, but believe it or not, despite our three-hour twitter snarkfest on the topic, we really wanted to be entertained. We wanted to see Christopher Walken wow us all and we even secretly kind of hoped that Allison Williams would blow any criticism or charges of nepotism out of the water with some sort of astonishing breakthrough performance. And while she certainly gave it her all and he definitely managed to supply most of the laughs of the night, it was a limp, sometimes boring, and occasionally amateurish production.
The Whelk: Popular tweets from the east coast live feed
Popular tweets from the east coast live feed
To refresh it for modern sensibilities, the songwriter Amanda Green, the daughter of an original “Peter Pan” lyricist, Adolph Green, and David Chase, the production’s music director, worked with Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, an Emmy-winning composer and member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. The nonsense lyrics were replaced with nursery rhymes and the rhythms were shifted to make the song less stereotypical and more authentically Native American.... the music’s rights holders signed off on the changes and Mr. Tate, in an interview with Salon, said that the producers “made all the right moves. I am 100 percent behind what they’re doing. I appreciate it.”
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian also endorsed NBC’s efforts. Kevin Gover, the museum’s director and a member of the Pawnee Nation, released a statement on Wednesday that read, in part: “This new interpretation of Tiger Lily is closer to our heritage, our culture and portrays a deeper sensitivity and helps diminish the many stereotypes surrounding Native Americans.”
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