Aug 6, 2017
PETER PAN LIVE RECAP: We Watched It ALL, From "I GOTTA CROW" to "OY VEY OH!"
Ahhh, Peter Pan. You remember him from your childhood, right? He’s the perpetual man child known for sneaking into your bedroom window in the middle of the night, making you snort something called “fairy dust” that he insists will make you “fly,” and then whisking you away to a far off land where your parents will NEVER EVER FIND YOU!
Fast forward to the present day. You’re all grown up. You’ve blocked out of your memory that brief period of time when you were part of the child slave trade. Everything is OK, or so you think. Then you turn on your television, and who do you see but that charming sociopath Peter Pan himself, re-imagined as the Pretty Uptight One from Girls . . .
. . . and Captain Hook as . . . THIS GUY?
It’s like something out of your wildest fever dream or most cringe-inducing nightmare. You want to look away, but you can’t . . . FOR THREE WHOLE HOURS . . .
As I got myself psyched up to do this live-reaction blog/recap, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the wise words of Allison Williams herself, who said, more of less, “Please for the love of all that is holy, do not hate watch me in Peter Pan.” It’s a valid concern of Allison’s, especially in light of That Thing That Happened Last Year That No One Wants to Talk About. For this reason, I have decided to engage myself in a bit of a Pavlovian Dog Punishment Plan to prevent me, personally, from hate-watching Peter Pan.
To effectuate my plan, I have invited Marnie from Girls over to my house to look over my shoulder as I type and personally insult me every time I make a comment about the show that appears to be even vaguely hate-watchy . . .
See? That was for the beginning of this article, where I not so subtly referred to a beloved children’s character as a kidnapper and possible child slave trader. As you can see, Marnie pulls no punches . . .
I think this is going to work out just fine.
Let’s get this Neverland party started, shall we?
Act I – The Darling Nursery – a.k.a. “Don’t Tell Mom, the Maid Is Dead.”
Welcome to the Darling Home, a place of domestic bliss. The parents are comely . . .
The children are well behaved . . .
And the adorable dog never sheds on the carpet . . .
But like every family, the Darlings have dark secrets . . . secrets they can’t hide from us, even in the opening moments of the play. Secrets like the fact that the maid has been “sleeping” in the closet for the past two years. And despite the fact that no one has seen her move in all that time, and she’s vaguely starting to smell, everyone in the family is too polite to check if she’s still breathing.
Of course, it’s understandable that the Darlings don’t want to take on the extra cost of burying their obviously dead maid, not when they can’t even afford to get their post-pubescent daughter her own bedroom. (As for Little John Darling, he doesn’t mind sharing a room at all. Not when his current accommodations are so much roomier than the closet under the stairs he used to live in over at the Dursleys . . .)
Plus, let’s face it, his sister Wendy is kind of hot. And she’s super cool about playing “husband and wife” with John on the bed together late at night. (He used to try to get Ginny Weasley to play that with him back in the day, but she always refused. Prude!)
Mama Darling frets briefly about some hallucinations she’s been having of a boy peeping into her kids window late at night, sings her kids some song about a shepherd, and departs from stage not to be seen again for nearly another 2.5 hours.
Enter PETER PAN!
Dressed more like an extra from the Broadway musical Cabaret than a boy legitimately raised in the woods (fishnet t-shirt, green leather vest, hosiery masquerading as “shadow headware”?) . . .
(Sorry Marnie. You’re right. Peter Pan’s wardrobe is lovely, and the best that he can do, living on his own, without a mother to sew pockets onto his trousers for him.)
. . . Peter Pan and green absinthe fairy Tinkerbell quickly make themselves at home in the Darling house, rifling through the kiddies’ underwear drawer, stomping around on the carpet, and speaking at full volume. Fortunately, John and Michael Darling are ridiculously sound sleepers who remain comatose while Peter and Wendy perform no less than THREE MUSICAL NUMBERS right over their beds, one of which literally involves Peter crowing loudly like a rooster. (Me thinks Mom slipped them some of the same drugs she used to “accidentally” murder the maid.)
(A brief note on Peter Pan casting: My sources tell me that the reason the role of Peter Pan in musicals has traditionally gone to a woman is more practical than anything else. Child labor laws being what they were back in the day, musical casting directors often found it preferable to cast leads in their shows who were over 18 so that these actors could legally put in the extensive hours of rehearsal necessary for this type of production. Unfortunately a little thing called puberty had a habit of turning boys who looked like this . . .
Into men who looked like this . . .
. . .sometime before their 18th birthday. So casting directors opted to cast androgynous young adult females in their teen boy roles instead. Though, nowadays, it’s substantially less difficult to find over 18-year-old boys who still look about 12, and whose voices have yet to change . . .
. . . NBC obviously opted to stick with tradition in its casting of its lead Guy in Green . . .)
Speaking of teenage boys, when Wendy and lady Peter discuss the option of exchanging “kisses” mere minutes after meeting, you can practically hear the sound of these horny kids collectively scooting toward their television screen in the hopes of some hot lesbi-action. Then they learn that innocent Peter and Wendy are merely exchanging thimbles, and you can collectively hear all of those same teenage boys changing the channel. Better luck in the HBO version of this story!
Eventually someone finally rouses John and Michael from their Ambien-induced stupor, everyone starts thinking “Happy Thoughts,” and away they fly to Neverland . . .
Act II – Neverland – The one place where a psychedelic alligator, a bunch of nudists, the cast from the mid ’90s movie Newsies, and everyone who didn’t get picked to be The Pirate in the Village People can live in almost perfect harmony
This is the first glimpse we get of Christopher Walken’s Captain Hook.
. . . and his merry band of sexy stripper club pirates. Walken as Hook is kind of a medical marvel here, because, while his feet and body do quite a bit of movement throughout the show’s three hour run time . . .
His face doesn’t move at all!
It’s like watching one of those audio animatronic characters on the rides at Disney, only Christopher Walken is an actual real person! At least I think he is . . .
I suspect critics are going to be split on Walken’s performance as Captain Hook. But to me, Walken struck precisely the right tone as a possibly perpetually drunk, water-logged, afraid of ticking clocks, definitely over-the-hill pirate, harboring an intensely unhealthy obsession with a little boy in green tights. He was campy! He was doddering! At times, he looked like he was going to pass out from the sheer effort of having to stand up straight and monologue for five straight minutes about blowing up an island and poisoning little boys’ desserts. It was hilarious, though possibly unintentionally so . . .
And while I tend to prefer my Captain Hooks, young, sexy and smoldering . . .
. . . even I can admit that this particular role called for a different kind of pirate, one with more than a little “Captain” in him, if you catch my drift . . .
Also on this boat was Captain Hook’s boyfriend, the Smithers to his Burns, Smee (played by the same guy who played Papa Darling) . . .
I mean, how can you not ship these two men together? Team Smook FTW!
But all is not fun and games in these loveable pirates’ lives. Because just beyond the water lurks . . . ACID TRIP ALLIGATOR . . .
Be afraid . . . be very afraid. Because if you walk the plank and fall into the water with this alligator, you might wake up to find yourself at the worst rave of your life!
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the island (which conveniently has a map drawn across its base, so that one never requires GPS), a nudist colony! Tiger Lily’s band of ripped, scantily clad, Native Americans unapologetically fondle Peter Pan’s aging Abercrombie Model Lost Boys as they sing a song with words that sound suspiciously like “Uy vey, uy vey, oh,” a song that may very well have been written by my grandmother, after she threw her back out a few summers ago . . .
As for the Lost Boys themselves . . .
. . . they claim to have wound up in Neverland because they fell out of their baby carriages. But personally, I think it was all a ruse to get out of paying child support for the children of their first failed marriages. These guys are basically slightly younger versions of Matthew McConoughey’s character in the movie Failure to Launch. No wonder they all want Wendy to be their “mother” so badly . . .
Poor Wendy, whisked away from the only home she knew on the promise of a happy hookup with the boy she was clearly crushing on, only to get to her destination and find herself as the virginal teen mom of approximately 42 twenty five year olds . . .
Later in the evening, Wendy, typical girl that she is, gets Peter Pan alone in a row boat (possibly because she’s seen that “Kiss the Girl” scene in The Little Mermaid one to many times) and is immediately demanding that he DTR, a.k.a. “define the relationship.” What’s worse, she’s also totally sporting the “Crazy Eyes” . . .
Clearly, the Darlings have been way too busy making sure the cops don’t find out they killed their maid to buy their teen girl a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine or put this book on her Kindle . . .
Peter is smart enough to politely ignore Wendy’s pleadings. After all, he’s got an entire frat house less than a mile away who are threatening mutiny if he doesn’t find them someone to clean their underwear on at least a biweekly basis . . . mother, indeed . . .
It doesn’t take long for the Lost Boys to get so used to having clean underwear, they want it permanently. “Can we all come home to London and live with you, Wendy?” they plead.
SAY NO, WENDY! JUST SAY NO!
Unfortunately, Wendy has just been unofficially dumped by Peter Pan and is feeling rather vulnerable. So, she invites the entire cast from Newsies to move in with her two brothers, the dog, and the dead maid into that one not-particularly large bedroom. Surely Peter Pan’s tree house . . .while it had its limitations in terms of indoor plumbing, and don’t even get me started on that ONE BATHTUB they all had to use at the same time, at least offered a better view and more square footage . . .
Not long after Wendy and the Lost Boys have departed the tree house, trouble arrives for Peter Pan in the form of Hook attempting to make him snort some really bad fairy dust . . . as opposed to the fun fairy dust he and Tinkerbell use recreationally all the time. Desperate to save her sweetie (what is it about this man-child that makes all the women on the show risk ruining their lives for him?), Tinkerbell inhales the poison first and dies!
Just kidding! This is the interactive part of the show where all the kids at home clap, proving that they believe in fairies, and save Tinkerbell’s life . . . the only problem is Tinkerbell’s “death” occurred at around 10:30 p.m., when all the good little boys and girls were already sleeping. So Peter Pan had to improvise (read: pretend) that people were actually clapping, when deep down he knew they were just snoring.
(Sorry Marnie. If you say they were really clapping, I believe you.)
Anywhoo, Tinkerbell lives. HOORAY!
And she revived just in time, because it looks like Wendy and the Lost Boys have been captured and taken to Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger. It’s time for Peter Pan, Tink, Tiger Lilly, and all those buff naked guys to rescue their friends.
Act III – The Jolly Roger – Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting!
This is the part of the show where the entire cast basically beats the crap out of one another for twenty minutes, and Christopher Walken gets eaten by the psychedelic alligator. Good times!
Then, Wendy bids her not-so-much boyfriend adieu and flies back to London to share with her mother and father the great news that she’s invited about four football teams worth of strange men to live with her and sleep in her bedroom. Ma and Pa don’t mind so much. For one thing, they figure they can marry Wendy off to one of them and use Wendy’s spare bed as the trampoline they’ve always wanted. Also, they could totally pin the maid’s murder on one of these derelicts, no questions asked!
The next morning, Wendy awakens to find out that she’s turned into Minnie Driver overnight . . .
(I don’t know about you, but this has 100% been my experience with the joys of aging.)
Peter Pan pops over, and Wendy, ever the sucker for an unrequited lover who treats her like crap, begs to go back to Neverland with him, husband, kid, home and consequences be damned.
“No thanks, you wrinkly old crone,” Peter replies.
“Well, then, can you at least take my daughter?” Wendy asks hopefully.
“That depends. Has she gone through puberty/developed boobies yet? Hint: I hate boobies. They always get in the way of the fishnet tops I want all my ‘friends’ to wear in Neverland,” Peter inquires.
“Nope. Not yet,” answers Wendy.
“Awesome! Come along, Wendy’s kid. You can be my new mother, who I am incapable of loving because I have severe attachment disorder from the abuse I suffered as a child.”
Oh, Marnie. You have to admit, you kind of walked into that one.
“Hooray!” says Wendy’s kid.
And off they go to Neverland, where they all live (disturbingly) happily ever after.
And that was all three hours of Peter Pan Live in a nutshell . . . an event that I will honor by leaving you with this random video of Christopher Walken dancing.
Now, I’d love to stay and chat, but . . . I’ve gotta CROW!