Peter Pan (1954 musical)

Peter Pan (1954 musical)

Infobox Musical
name= Peter Pan

caption= Original Recording
music= Jule Styne
Mark Charlap
Trude Rittman
lyrics= Betty Comden
Adolph Green
Carolyn Leigh
Mark Charlap
book= Sir James M. Barrie
basis= Sir J. M. Barrie's play
"Peter Pan"
productions= 1954 Broadway
1979 Broadway revival
1990 Broadway revival
1998 Broadway revival

"Peter Pan" is a musical adaptation of Sir J. M. Barrie's renowned play "Peter Pan" and Barrie's own novelization of it, "Peter and Wendy". In different productions of the musical, the title character of Peter Pan has been played famously by Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby. The music is mostly by Mark "Moose" Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics were written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and initially starred Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard on Broadway.

Original stage production

The show opened on October 20 1954 at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York for a planned limited run of 152 performances. The show had been sold to NBC, which ensured that it was a financial success despite the limited run.

Despite mixed reviews, it is remembered as one of the most memorable performances in the career of its star, Mary Martin. Originally conceived as a play with incidental music, it evolved into a full-scale musical during the show's West Coast tryout, when director Robbins called in composer Styne and lyricists Comden and Green to augment the existing score by Charlap and Leigh.

The show opened in a busy Broadway season, competing with such notable shows as "The Boy Friend", "Fanny", "Silk Stockings", and "Damn Yankees". However, while still in tryouts in Los Angeles, a deal was made for the show to be broadcast on the NBC anthology series "Producers' Showcase" on March 7 1955. The show closed so that it could be done on television, not because of any bad reviews or poor box office. [Hanson, Bruce K. "The Peter Pan Chronicles: The Nearly 100 Year History of the Boy that Wouldn't Grow Up". Birch Press: 1993, pages 213-214] The network telecast, with the show's original cast, drew the largest ratings for a single television program up to that time. Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard had already won Tony Awards for their performances, and Martin won an Emmy Award for the television production. It was so well received that the musical was restaged live for television in 1956, and with a slightly different cast (the children had outgrown their roles), it was restaged yet again and videotaped for television in 1960. The 1960 edition was rebroadcast several times, and later released on home video.

For the 1960 telecast, Acts II and III were split into two segments each, for a total of five acts instead of the three into which it had been divided on stage. This was done to allow for more commercial breaks.


The show was revived in 1979 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, starring Sandy Duncan and George Rose, and ran for 554 performances. Duncan was nominated for the Best Actress Tony, and the show itself was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.

A third production was mounted in 1990, originally at the Lunt-Fontanne, running for 45 performances. A return engagement opened 10 months later, this time at the Minskoff Theatre, running for an additional 48 performances. Both engagements starred gymnast Cathy Rigby as Peter; the first co-starred Stephen Hanan and the second J. K. Simmons. The production was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical at the 1991 Tonys, and Rigby was nominated for Best Actress. Rigby returned to Broadway as Peter Pan in 1998 at the Marquis Theatre, with Paul Schoeffler co-starring. This production ran for 48 performances. A return engagement with the same stars opened in 1999 at the George Gershwin Theatre and ran for 166 performances. This engagement was nominated for the 1999 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, and was shown on television in 2000.

Jack Noseworthy is the only male actor to have played Peter Pan on Broadway; he was an understudy in the revue Jerome Robbins' Broadway. []


Act I

The Darling Nursery

As Mr. and Mrs. Darling prepare for an evening out, two of their children, Wendy and John, play their parents. When Mrs. Darling comes in and sees Michael is left out, she gets him in the game and joins in with all of them ("1, 2, 3") while their nursemaid, the dog Nana, watches. Mr. Darling comes in to have his tie tied, and he questions using a dog as a nursemaid, but Mrs. Darling defends her. The previous week, while the children slept, Nana was surprised to see a boy in the room. Before she could catch him, he flew out the window. She did manage to catch his shadow, however, which Mrs. Darling has tucked away in a drawer. Nevertheless, Mr. Darling insists that Nana spend the night downstairs. Mrs. Darling and the children sing a lullaby ("Tender Shepherd").

The children fall asleep. A fairy, Tinker Bell, and Peter Pan slip in through the window. Tinker Bell shows Peter where his shadow is hidden. He tries to reattach it and starts to cry when he can't get it to stick. Wendy wakes up and asks, "Boy, why are you crying?" When he explains, she offers to sew his shadow to his foot. Peter is thrilled when his shadow is reattached ("I've Gotta Crow"). Peter tells Wendy about the fairies, and how a fairy dies every time a child says he or she doesn't believe in fairies. Peter tries to introduce Wendy to Tinkerbell (who accidentally got shut in the drawer when Peter found his shadow), but Tink is jealous and won't be polite. Wendy asks where he comes from, and Peter tells her of his island, called Neverland ("Never Never Land"). Peter says he sometimes came to Wendy's window to listen to her mother's stories, and Wendy says she'll tell him and the Lost Boys all the stories she knows, if Peter will let her bring Michael and John along, to which Peter agrees. Wendy wakes her brothers up, but suddenly Nana and the housemaid Liza come in, having heard noises. The children pretend to be asleep, while Peter and Tinker Bell hide. When Nana and Liza leave, Peter invites them all to Neverland, and promises to teach them to fly. They happily agree, but ask Peter to show them how to fly. Peter happily launches himself into the air ("I'm Flying").

Peter covers the kids in fairy dust and tells them to "think lovely thoughts." Soon the children are flying just like Peter! ("I'm Flying - Reprise") Grabbing some belongings, the children follow Peter, but Michael doubles back when Liza comes into the room, giving her some of his fairy dust and telling her to come to Neverland with them. Peter and children fly through the night to Neverland.

Act II

Never Land

Peter's "Lost Boys" are standing outside their underground lair, wondering when he will return, when they hear by Captain Hook and his pirates ("Pirate Song"). The boys hide; one of them runs into a pirate who chases him, but Hook stops him, trying to keep his men quiet, in fear of an Indian ambush. Hook sends his men to search for all the Boys, and tells Smee, his right-hand man, that he wants to kill Peter most of all, because Peter is the one who cut off his hand and threw it to a crocodile, which has developed a taste for Hook and follows him around, hoping to eat more of him, but luckily ate a clock that ticks and will alert Hook to its presence. Hook accidentally stumbles upon the entrance to the hideout, and summons Smee and his men to provide background music while he plans the Boys' demise ("Hook's Tango"), a rich cake with poisonous icing. Hook suddenly hears a loud tick-tock; the crocodile appears but Hook escapes (actually, Hook faints in Smee's arms and Smee drags the captain away). The pirates flee, and the Boys reappear, thinking they're safe. Suddenly, a group of "Indians" appears, led by Tiger Lily ("Indians"). They leave the Boys alone, and go on hunting the pirates.

However, little Tootles accidentally bumps into an Indian who grabs Tootles puts him over his shoulder and tries to carry him off. The Boys and the Indians have a tug-of-war over Tootles, but everyone stops when the Boys see a strange bird in the sky, and one of the Boys fires an arrow (the Indians run away). It isn't a bird; it's Wendy! Peter, Michael and John land to find the arrow lodged in her heart. She isn't dead, but she can't be moved into the hideout, so the Lost Boys build a house around her, hoping that she'll agree to be their mother ("Wendy"), to which, when she wakes up, she agrees. Hook plants the cake, but Wendy thinks it too rich; instead, she'll tell the Boys stories. Hook is infuriated that the Boys have found a mother. He plots to kidnap Wendy and the Boys, while Smee and the pirates play a "Tarantella". (In an extra scene from the movie, Liza arrives and does a ballet with the trees while Peter sleeps outside the house.)

A few days pass with everyone having adventures. Peter leads the Boys in their anthem ("I Won't Grow Up"). The pirates arrive carrying Tiger Lily over their shoulders and tie her to a tree, but Peter throws his voice in mimicry of the Captain and convinces the men to let her go. Hook arrives and becomes enraged at her release. He demands that the "spirit of the forest" speak to him, so Peter tricks them all to think he is Hook, and the real Hook is a codfish. The pirates abandon Hook, but Hook convinces the "spirit" to reveal its true identity. Peter obliges, disguising himself as a "beautiful lady" ("Oh, My Mysterious Lady"). Hook catches on and tries to ambush Peter (and the pirates rejoin), but the pirates are chased away by Tiger Lily and her Indians.

Back at the hideout, Tiger Lily and the Indians rush in, and are almost shot by the Boys, until Peter reveals the truce between them. They smoke a peace pipe and vow eternal friendship ("Ugg-a-Wugg"). Tiger Lily and her Indians leave to stand guard around the house above. Wendy asks Peter to sing the Boys a lullaby ("Distant Melody"). Michael and John want to return home, and Wendy admits to being homesick, too. The Boys wish they had parents, and Wendy offers hers to all of them. Everyone is excited about being adopted, except Peter, who says he won't go. Wendy tells him she'll come back once a year to do his spring cleaning.

The pirates attack and subdue the Indians. They give Peter the all-clear signal, so Peter sadly sends Wendy, her brothers, and the Lost Boys on their way. Before she leaves, Wendy sets out Peter's medicine for him to take before bed. As the they leave the underground house, each boy is gagged with a white cloth shoved into their mouth and carried over the shoulder of a pirate to Hook's ship, the "Jolly Roger", where the Boys will be made to walk the plank, and Wendy will be forced to become the pirates' mother! Once the boys and Wendy are carried off, Hook sneaks into the lair and poisons Peter's medicine. Tinker Bell tells Peter of the ambush and tries to tell of the poison, but he waves her off. Desperate, she drinks the poison herself. Dying, she tells Peter that if every boy and girl who believes in fairies would clap their hands, she would live. Peter breaks the fourth wall and asks children of all ages to believe and clap their hands. They do, and Tinker Bell is saved. Peter grabs a dagger and heads off to rescue Wendy and the Boys.


The Jolly Roger

Hook revels in his success as the pirates fight over the Boys' possessions while they tie up and gagged the boys ("Hook's Waltz"). Hook breaks the fourth wall himself and tells how he hates that children are made to hate him and love Peter. As the plank is prepared, Hook hears the tick-tock of the crocodile and panics. It's actually Peter with a clock, and while Hook cowers, Peter and the Boys help the Indians, the animals and Liza onto the ship and hide. Peter hides in a closet and "kills" two pirates Hook sends in (the "doodle-doo" Hook calls it as Peter still crows after killing the pirates). The pirates then carry the Boys in, and the Boys pretend to be afraid as they are carried in. Peter disguises himself as a pirate, and the pirates think the "doodle-doo" killed all the Boys. Hook believes the ship is now cursed, and everyone thinks Wendy is the source. The pirates push Wendy to the plank. Peter ditches his disguise, and the Indians attack, as well as the Boys who are alive and armed. The pirates are all defeated, and Peter challenges Hook to a duel to the death, and defeats him. Hook threatens to blow the ship with a bomb, but runs into the real crocodile (who Peter also brought on the ship). Peter catches the dropped bomb and tosses it in the sea after Hook slides down the plank (which is shaped like a slide) with the crocodile chasing behind him. Everyone sings Peter's praises ("I've Gotta Crow" (reprise)). Before the Darling children and everyone goes to London, Liza asks Peter to teach her to crow ("I Gotta Crow - 2nd reprise").

Back home, the Darlings sit by the nursery window night after night, hoping for their children to return. The children silently reappear and sing to their mother ("Tender Shepherd" reprise). Joyous over their return, the Darlings happily agree to adopt the Lost Boys ("We Will Grow Up"). Wendy prays to the window that Peter will return to her.

Years pass, and Peter comes to the nursery, surprising a much older Wendy, who no longer expected him. He wants her to come to Never Land for spring cleaning, but she tells him that she cannot - she has grown up; she is married and has a daughter of her own now, Jane. Peter begins to cry, and Wendy leaves the room at the sound of her husband's offstage voice. Jane awakes, and like her mother before her, asks, "Boy, why are you crying?" Peter introduces himself, but Jane knows all about him from her mother's stories. She has been waiting for him to come take her to Never Land and to learn to fly. Peter, now happy again, throws fairy dust on her, but as they are about to leave, Wendy tries to stop them, saying, "Oh, if only I could go with you!" In the most poignant moment of the show, Peter answers with a sad but understanding smile, "You can't. You see, Wendy, you're too grown up". And so, Wendy reluctantly lets Jane go, "just for spring cleaning." Her daughter and the "boy who refuses to grow up" fly off into the night. ("Finale: Never Never Land - Reprise")

Musical Numbers


*Wendy Moira Angela Darling
*John Darling, her brother
*Michael Darling, their brother
*Mr. Darling, their father
*Mrs. Darling, their mother
*Nana, the dog/nurse
*Liza, the family's maid
*Jane, Wendy's daughter

*Peter Pan, leader of the Lost Boys
*Slightly Soiled, the most conceited
*Twin #1
*Twin #2
*Tootles, the shy one
*Tinker Bell, the fairy

*Tiger Lily, the princess of the indian tribe

*Captain Hook, Peter's main enemy
*Smee, the comedic sidekick to Hook
*Bill Jukes

Awards and nominations

;1954 production
* Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical - Mary Martin WINNER
* Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical - Cyril Ritchard WINNER
* Tony Award for Best Stage Technician - Richard Rodda WINNER;1979 revival
* Tony Award for Best Revival
* Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical - Sandy Duncan
* Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Sandy Duncan;1990 revival
* Tony Award for Best Revival
* Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical - Cathy Rigby;1998 revival
* Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical

Television Movie

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are planning a film version of "Peter Pan". "Our next TV musical will be the first movie version of the Mary Martin "Peter Pan". No one has previously made a film of the musical and we will do it very much like we did "Cinderella" and "Annie" for ABC." [ [ Broadway World article, July 13, 2007] ]

No cast has been announced yet, however Zadan said "Peter Pan will definitely be a woman. The tradition is for women to play that part. It was written for Mary Martin. The songs were written in a woman’s key. The way we’d never dream of casting a woman as Edna in "Hairspray", we’d never dream of casting a man as Peter Pan." [ [ Film Journal International article, July 25, 2007] ]


External links

*ibdb show|id = 9959|title = Peter Pan
* [ Peter Pan page at]
* [ Synopsis and other information about Peter Pan and many useful links]
* [ Lyrics from the show]
* [ 1990 NY Times review]

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