Friday, December 5, 2014

Never Never(again)land

NBC has done it again. Last night, NBC debuted it's second live musical performance, "Peter Pan Live!". It's first live musical, "The Sound of Music Live!" brought in huge ratings for the network, but unfortunately the audience reaction wasn't as great. The event turned into "hate-watching", a guilty pleasure that I enjoy myself. Carrie Underwood just didn't cut it as Maria, and viewers came back this year to see if Allison Williams could pull off a convincing Peter Pan. Here's a highlight of the infamous "I'm Flying" scene from the performance:

The viewer ratings compared to last year's "Sound of Music Live!" went down 47%. As far as performance reviews, the general consensus seems to be that the actors did better than last year, but not by much. I didn't get to see "The Sound of Music Live!", but I was not impressed with this year's show. Maybe I'm biased because I was raised on Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan (2000), which was an incredible performance, but the casting for the new show was not believable. Allison Williams gave a deadpan performance to one of the most fun and rambunctious characters to ever come to the stage. Christopher Walken is well... Christopher Walken. I'm still not sure how someone came to the conclusion that he would be the best fit for Captain Hook. Although his dance moves were pretty smooth, he isn't energetic enough and his singing abilities just don't match up. I understand that big names bring more people, which brings more money, but there is no way there weren't better choices for both roles.

Besides the performances, there was also the controversial matter of racism and sexism in the casting. Peter Pan is originally a pretty offensive show when it came to Native Americans, depicting them as extreme stereotypes. NBC made steps to amend this by changing the most offensive song "Ug-A-Wug" to "True Blood Brothers", but did not realize their mistake in casting. "Peter Pan Live!" took a lot of criticism for casting an all-white ensemble of Lost Boys, and a tribe of mixed races for Tiger Lily's tribe. Not only was the segregation blatant, but there were also no women in the cast besides Wendy, Peter Pan, and Tiger Lily. Understandably, the Lost Boys and Pirates must be men, but there was plenty of room for women in Tiger Lily's tribe.

There were some good points in the show, namely the production value of the set and the singing capabilities of most of the actors. But it was difficult to appreciate when I was so displeased with the acting.

All in all, I commend NBC for trying to bring back musicals, but they need to stop casting film actors and use theatrically trained professionals, even if their names don't bring in most of the viewers. Let's hope they fix their mistakes and apply them to next year's performance of "The Music Man Live!". We can only hope. Rest assured I'll be there, hate-watching with the rest of America.

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