And so, NBC has announced what the next live musical will be that they'll air for a December special. And all the guesses here -- mine included -- were wrong.
It's Peter Pan.
A friend sent me a sardonic note, "What a bold and imaginative choice!" But I disagree with his reaction.
He's right, it’s not bold or imaginative -- but I actually think it’s a terrific choice. (Hey, “The Sound of Music” is hardly bold or imaginative. Doing a live musical was what was bold and imaginative. Hardly the show itself.) I think it’s a good choice because it’s a fun musical, has a legendary live-TV tradition, has the sense of “danger” of what can go wrong with the flying, and will appeal hugely to kids. But most of all, I think they first have to establish in the audiences mind to watch live musicals on TV. And when you get two under your belt, you then are moving towards the point of people thinking, “Okay, what live musical will they do this year?” I think that Peter Pan helps do that.
So, I’m fine with the choice. There are certainly others I’d like to have seen -- but I love Peter Pan. I've seen it in the theater with Sandy Duncan, I went to a Museum of Broadcasting screening of it (where Mary Martin appeared as a guest. She wanted everyone to make sure they noted she was intentionally wearing an all-green pant suit.) I've of course seen the Mary Martin version on TV -- and the Cathy Rigby on TV. So, absolutely I’ll watch.
Hey, I didn't hear anyone guess it. So, it that at least makes it somewhat imaginative. Mainly, though, I’m just glad they’re doing another. The broadcast is scheduled to air on December 4. If you want to see an the article about it, click here.
Now, comes the guessing game part of who they'll cast...
I'll start with Kelly Clarkson. (And yes, that's a joke.)
I think Kristen Chenoweth would be a good choice, though NBC has shown they would like even bigger names. I also think that Amy Adams and Kristen Bell have the gamin-like charm that's needed.
But whoever they cast, and however they do it, here's the standard they're up against.
The is The Original -- Mary Martin. It's hard not to be in awe of the charm and ease and grace and spirit she brings to it. (To be clear, not the first time the show was done live, that was in 1956. This is when they did it again in color.)
This is "I'm Flying," written by Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap. (The score was split between them and Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne.) And best of all, it's the whole number. Usually, clips of the song end when it's over -- but continues with the Aerial Ballet, which may be my favorite part of the entire show.
If you've ever seen Peter Pan on TV, it's not the same experience as live in a theater full of children. You may recall that in the movie Finding Neverland, J.M. Barrie salts the opening night house with young orphans so that the jaded adults in the audience couldn't help but be impacted by the children's reaction. It holds true today in a theater.
It's still pretty darn good on TV.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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