Will you be watching Peter Pan tonight? I probably won’t, though Gilda has influenced me into taping the three hour live production (taping allows me to zoom through the plethora of commercials that would make this new version of the classic show almost intolerable to view live). Which raises the question, which moron at NBC thought it brilliant to air a children’s show that would end at 11 pm on a school night?
I’m not inclined to see this version of Peter Pan because I adored the mid-1950s production starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard. Each year I eagerly absorbed the black and white telecast, excitedly clapping to keep Tinker Bell alive, crowing along with Peter, singing “I’m an Indian, too” with Tiger Lily, and crossing swords with Captain Hook and Smee. I had a green felt hat with feather, just like Peter wore, at least in the Walt Disney cartoons of Peter’s adventures that aired in the same decade, and plastic swords to duel pirates. I had a Peter Pan board game.
In short, if I wasn’t imagining myself as Davy Crockett in my coonskin hat, I was visualizing myself flying through the air as Peter Pan. Perhaps that’s why I liked the Robin Williams film Hook and the Johnny Depp flick Finding Neverland that extended my youthful fascination with the J.M. Barrie boy who never wanted to grow up. I never wanted to, either (Gilda would say there are many a day when I display child-like behavior, but that’s a subject of another blog that probably will never see the light of a computer screen). And for the record, I also really enjoyed watching the Disneyfication of Davy Crockett starring Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen.
Gilda does not share my enthusiasm for Peter Pan. I don’t believe Ellie does, either, but her musical theater career includes two portrayals of Wendy, once in the traditional role as part of a Play Group Theatre production while in high school and then at Skidmore College in a dark, avant-garde reorientation of the classic story. All I recall from that play is Ellie singing, a major coup for a freshman to be chosen ahead of theater majors.