Peter Pan Live! (2014)

peter pan live poster allison williams christopher walken
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Better than The Sound of Music Live, better cast

Long and bloated, generally weird story of Peter Pan

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Peter Pan Live!

Studio:  NBC

Genre(s):  Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  December 4, 2014

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Tweet if you believe in fairies!

Peter Pan (Allison Williams) has come to the Darling house in search of Wendy (Taylor Louderman).  Wendy could provide Peter and the Lost Boys with the mother they never had.  Traveling with her brothers Michael (John Allyn) and John (Jake Lucas), Peter, Wendy, John, and Michael arrive just in time for the return of Captain Hook (Christopher Walken) and his pirate crew.  As Peter and Wendy tend to the Lost Boys, warnings from Tiger Lily (Alanna Saunders) go unheeded and the fate on Neverland hangs in the balance.

Directed by Rob Ashford, Peter Pan Live! adapts the 1954 stage musical of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.  The musical was famously brought to TV in 1955, 1956, and 1960 by the Broadway cast starring Mary Martin (the 1960 version was recorded and was released on VHS) and this version aired on NBC on December 4, 2014.  The musical follows the successful 2013 performance The Sound of Music Live!


I wonder how much time the pirates spend plundering vs. rehearsing dance numbers?

I have to say I’ve never been a big fan of the story of Peter Pan and The Sound of Music Live! was pretty abysmal.  Despite this, I found Peter Pan Live! much more enjoyable than The Sound of Music…that does not necessarily mean it is an endorsement, and the story is still weird as hell.

Peter Pan is a really odd story.  Peter is painted as a really, really flawed hero.  Growing up is “evil” because adults like Captain Hook are evil, but staying young is also shown to be bad with Peter being juvenile and relatively annoying.  While Wendy and the other boys realize growing up is a necessity, he remains an eternal child…which isn’t really a good thing (and rather creepy).


Peter realizing he wished that Wendy would just shut up…

The other creepy thing about Peter Pan is the casting.  Generally Peter has been cast as a woman to give him the stage presence, but also allowing to have a higher voice and a youthful appearance.  Allison Williams proves that it was a better idea to cast an actress for the role versus casting a musician like with Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live!  In general the cast is stronger and have more stage presence than the previous production.  Christopher Walken is odd like normal, and I thought Taylor Louderman as Wendy felt very Broadway (which doesn’t necessarily translate to screen well).  I do find it strange that they cast children as Michael and John but then cast adults as the Lost Boys…I wish they had a happy medium.


A real crocodile would have put some fun danger in the production

The special looked nice and had a fairy look.  The story was given a more Christmas theme and new music was made for the production.  I felt the crocodile was impressive in its surreal appearance and liked the wirework added a scary aspect to the “live” element of the production (now if we could get Spider-Man:  Turn Off the Dark).  I also liked the modern idea to have people “tweet” to save Tinkerbell instead of just clapping.

Peter Pan Live! is a better production, but also doesn’t have as an iconic film to live up to (yes, Disney’s Peter Pan is popular, but not like The Sound of Music).  Despite being better, it still isn’t great and it is long and bloated.  Viewers can enjoy believing in fairies and this is a relatively harmless way to do it.  NBC commissioned The Wiz Live! for its 2015 live musical.

Related Links:

The Sound of Music Live! (2013)

The Wiz Live! (2015)

Grease:  Live! (2016)

Hairspray Live! (2016)

Peter Pan (1953)

Hook (1991)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

2 Comments on "Peter Pan Live! (2014)"

  1. Linnea Capps December 5, 2014 at 5:49 am - Reply

    I first saw the musical, “Peter Pan,” as a child and was enchanted from the first scene to the end credits. Who didn’t wish they could fly? “Second star to the right and straight on ’till morning,” was so much a part of the culture of the older, loyal fan base of the Star Trek franchise, it was the perfect line to use to close the sixth movie. We all got it. It was muffled tonight, lost in the shuffle and press at the window as the children and Peter prepare to leave the nursery. You must be a child of the nineties, because your review of this holiday offering of Peter Pan, the musical, demonstrates a sad lack of exposure to the original staging of Peter Pan as a musical. Tonight’s show, done “live,” was a sad, pale, badly-cast version of what should have been a delightful, fun, magical, whimsical, transporting experience.
    Mr. Darling and Captain Hook are usually played by the same actor, and tonight’s Mr. Darling (actor Christian Borle) should have played both roles, but instead of playing Hook, he was demoted to the Pirate role, Smee. Borle had not only the stage presence, but also the kind of strong singing voice which would have done great credit to the character of Hook. Christopher Walken was the worst possible choice to play Hook. He did NOTHING to make Hook seem either scary, obsessive, frightened of a crocodile, or a leader of pirates. He muffed and missed lines, and at times, looked like he was reading his lines off a teleprompter. Some people, posting to IMDb boards, wondered if he were drunk. His singing was weak, slurred and unsuited to the requirements of the role. What a disappointment. Cyril Ritchard was the original Mr. Darling/Hook in the Broadway musical. He was everything you wanted a villian in the magical world of Neverland to be – at turns scary, weak/defeatable, self-absorbed/distracted, obsessed with the ticking of a clock and slightly ridiculous. He also could sing the part of Hook, which is more than can be said of Christopher Walken.
    Mary Martin was the first and, as far as I am concerned, quintessential incarnation of the character, Peter Pan. She had a spectacular vocal range – almost opera-worthy – that gave the character the ability to fool the pirates and Hook into thinking he – Pan – was a “beautiful lady” – all to save the lost boys as they escaped from the pirates. She was a mature, dynamic, experienced stage actress, who knew how to reach out into the hearts of each child who watched the telecasts of “Peter Pan.” Other actresses have done credible jobs taking on the role and keeping the magic and the whimsy of the role. Allison Williams, on the other hand, to begin with looked too thin, almost anorexic, not at all like a strong boy. And she acted in such a low-key, laid-back style that I just couldn’t relate to or care about the whimsical, magical, boyishly leader-of-boys character I’ve come to love over the years. Her singing style was breathless, clipped, sounding choppy at times and did nothing to pull me in to her character’s world. She also has what some vocal teachers call a “nanny goat” vibrato, meaning her sustained notes sound more like the bleating noise of a goat as opposed to the even, steady quaver or vibration of a singer’s vibrato. Not pretty. Hard to listen to. Ultimately, the woman (because it takes a fully matured singing voice to carry the role) playing Peter MUST be able to convince the audience she IS Peter and Ms. Williams, for all her effort, never got past just acting the part, in my opinion.
    There were songs in the original production score that were removed for Thursday night’s show. There were wonderful puns and plays on words in the original libretto that added to the sense of fun, silliness, and joy of the musical. Hearing them made you laugh and kept you watching and listening for more. Not so tonight.
    Kudos to Kelli O’hara (Mrs. Darling), Taylor Louderman (Wendy), Jake Lucas and John Allyn (John and Michael Darling), Minnie Driver (adult Wendy), Caitlan Houlahan (Wendy’s daughter, Jane), the pirates, lost boys, and islanders for their very professional singing, dancing, and outstanding energy – they were all delightful in their roles. They all made watching the very poor redo of Peter Pan almost worth the other disappointments.
    I wanted to like this show, because I loved the original. And, because I always liked Brian Williams and wanted very much to like the job his daughter was going to do in this new production. But, because of my feeling that the two leads failed to meet and surpass the job the rest of the cast was doing, I scored this show a 4 out of a possible 10. The success or failure of a show like this one rests on the shoulders of the protagionists. In this case, on the shoulders of the characters Peter and Hook. The show literally sinks to the bottom or sails safely on, on the strength of those actors. And so, in spite of the excellent efforts of the supporting cast, this version of Peter Pan sank, right to the bottom of the lagoon. In my humble opinion.

    • JPRoscoe December 5, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Agree with most of your statements. The tricky part about these Live shows are that they can’t decide if they want to recreate the stage play/musical or provide entertainment that has an appeal to a younger/bigger audience by bringing in big named stars. It becomes a bit jarring to see stage acting mixed with TV/Movie acting and the two don’t really mesh well. I mostly compare The Sound of Music Live! which was even more conflicted since its lead was not an actor at all. I have seen the Mary Martin version (though it has been years), but it came from a different time in television (that is not a judgment call on it) when different standards and goals to impress the audience. Martin was the lead in the stage play and that helped her give a more rounded performance. Williams lacked this, but did succeed in giving a better performance than Underwood the previous year.

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