The other day, I posted the full version of Mary Martin in the classic 1960 production of Peter Pan. I thought you might like to see an alternative.
This is a completely different musical version of Sir James M. Barrie's play. It was done for the Hallmark Hall of Fame in1976, and features a score by none other than Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, the team most famously responsible for the stage musicals Stop the World, I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd -- as well as the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which included the song, "The Candy Man.")
Making this production all the more notable is that it has quite a strong cast, starring Mia Farrow and Danny Kaye. I remember seeing this back when it aired, and much enjoyed it -- though it's very flawed. Mia Farrow can't sing a lick, but she's nothing if not gamin-like and a good actress, so she handles Peter very well. And Danny Kaye is an inspired choice for Captain Hook/Mr. Darling.
The score is not this team's most distinguished, but it's effective and works well enough, with even a few standout numbers. My favorite is called "Growing Up" (or something like that, since there are no titles given), which I think I may have posted here previously, though wouldn't swear to it. What I remember reading at the time Hallmark aired the show is that this adaptation of the Barrie play (written by Jack Burns, of the famous Burns & Schrieber comedy team out of Second City) sticks closer to the original play and is therefore a bit more dark and bittersweet than what people remember from the far-better known Broadway version. And as such, because it's not as light and "fun," it may suffer in many people's minds.
What I think is almost more problematic, though, is that that this Hallmark version doesn't tend to find new things to musicalize, but instead has different songs in almost the exact same places they existed in the Mary Martin version. (For example, the terrific "Growing Up" is in the same place were Peter sings "I Won't Grow Up.") So, you're almost expecting the older songs, and its' a little jarring to get something different and (though good) not as fun. I love "Growing Up" -- but it's dark, with Peter pleading achingly with the others, almost angst-ridden to convince them. "I Won't Grow Up," on the other hand, is a joyful, bursting declaration of youth.
In no way is this production as fun as the one with a score by Carolyn Leigh, Moose Charlap, Jule Styne and Betty Comeden and Adolph Green. But it's a smart, well-done, valid adaptation, and worth taking a look it. It won't be for everyone. But there's a whole lot good in it.
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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