‘Peter Pan Live!’ on NBC: Review Roundup, Video Highlights

December 5, 2014

Peter Pan Live!’ on NBC with Allison Williams in the iconic title role and Christopher Walken as the equally iconic ‘Captain Hook’ was the second live television event, following upon ‘The Sound of Music Live’ with Carrie Underwood which got more attention and ratings than critical acclaim. What about this time around? See a roundup of critics’ reviews and replay video of the musical highlights.

The iconic ‘The Sound of Music’ movie based on the famed Rodgers and Hammserstein Broadway musical with Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp and Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp was untouchable to some and as such the live production had multiple battles to fight, not least that some were not so sure it should even have come about. And, too, there were the inevitable comparisons of Carrie Underwood to Julie Andrews’ legendary performance.

This time around, NBC took on another classic, Peter Pan. While Mary Martin is for many the iconic Peter Pan, there was much less angst over Alison Williams taking over the role. The ‘Girls’ star just also happens to be the daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. Nepotism perhaps? The Yale Drama School graduate who, in behind-the-scenes videos spoke of her lifelong passion for the play and its title role did thus have to prove herself worthy.

As for Captain Hook, the legendary Christopher Walken more than held his own, giving a playfully evil yet subtle twist to the role — at times it was almost a meta-performance as he seemed to be playing to our expectations of what Christopher Walken portraying Captain Hook might be like. He also spawning many a gif online thereafter as many seem surprised over his dance moves in ‘Hook’s Waltz.’

Last year’s live production of The Sound of Music was a trending topic on Twitter for hours, and so too is #PeterPanLive, as many have Tweeted their assessments.

As for the television critics, like the rest of us, they had to wait for the live show — no prescreenings! Now in the aftermath they have weighed in. Here’s a roundup.

“….Though the literal suspension was no problem for Williams–we knew she could sing, and she did, but her wire work was impressively light-as-air. Her acting was a little more weighed down. She captured Peter’s arrogance and strut, but not quite his childishness. She seemed more obviously like a grown woman playing a small boy, which lent some of her flirty scenes with Wendy a tension that made her no-snark edict seem like a cruel dare. We are not made of stone!…..” TIME

“…We really wanted it to be good. We really wanted not to fall into the hate-tweet trap. And, to be fair, it was, at times, a hoot. Few things in life rival Christopher Walken rocking Chola eyebrows and a Cindy Crawford beauty mark, and Allison Williams makes one handsome boy.

No, it’s not that Peter Pan Live! was the Sound of Music Live! train wreck our heads are still spinning over, like Carrie Underwood twirling maniacally on a soundstage hilltop. It’s that Peter Pan Live! was boring. For all of its large-scale production numbers danced expertly by an army of Lost Boy twinks and psychedelic sets designed by someone clearly flying high on some strong fairy dust, the most egregious thing about Peter Pan Live! was that it was an inexcusable bore….” — The Daily Beast

“… What many were really hoping for was a full-scale disaster, a mess even bigger and more tweet-worthy than last year’s “The Sound of Music Live.”

“Instead, they got three long hours of “fine” bedazzled here and there by Walken, using his deadpan lunacy and stop-motion syncopation to create a Captain Hook beside whom Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow looks like a Naval Academy valedictorian. […]

“He did not save the show so much as sporadically jump-start it. Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, with a teleplay by Irene Mecchi, “Peter Pan Live” was far from the disaster hate-watchers hoped for, but despite all the big dance numbers, credible solos and accident-free flight, it dutifully marched, and occasionally crawled where it should have soared…” — L.A. Times

“…. The casting in these endeavors always commands a little too much attention, and while the choices in this case were hardly fatal given the abundance of shortcomings, they certainly didn’t help.

“That began with Allison Williams, whose singing voice was perfectly fine, but seemed far less boyish – and buoyant – than other famous occupants of the Peter Pan role on stage; and pretty much ended with Christopher Walken, an intriguing choice in theory, but whose laid-back take on Captain Hook and muted voice only exhibited the faintest spark when he had an opportunity to dance. Moreover, Walken’s makeup was positively pallid, at times bearing a closer resemblance to Count Dracula..….” — Variety

“….The Girls star and daughter of NBC anchor Brian Williams proved she could sing and act and prance around with the red light of the cameras reminding her there were no second takes. The role called for her to exert a fair amount of physical effort, much of it on wires — precisely the kind of thing that would tire out and doom a lot of actors who never did live theater or musical theater. But Williams held her own and in the process held the show together for the most part.

The rest of the glue was provided by the inimitable Walken, who was simultaneously playing himself and playing Captain Hook, though for some long stretches one couldn’t be sure if he was forgetting lines left and right or just letting the play breathe….” — The Hollywood Reporter

“….Those who watched the musical “Peter Pan Live!” on NBC on Thursday in hopes of lighting up the Twittersphere with catty commentary were doomed to disappointment. Whatever was wrong with this performance, and there’s always something a bit off in a three-hour live television show, it wasn’t Ms. Williams. .….” — The New York Times

NBC has released official video of all of the musical performances on YouTube. You can see these video highlights below.

Hook’s Waltz

I won’t Grow Up

I’m Flying

Hook’s Tarantella


Only Pretend

Pictures: PR Photos

« Previous Next »

Comments are closed.