Peter Pan (1954 musical)

Peter Pan

Original Cast Recording
Music Jule Styne
Mark Charlap
Trude Rittmann (dance arrangements)
Lyrics Betty Comden
Adolph Green
Carolyn Leigh
Book Sir James M. Barrie
Basis Sir J. M. Barrie's play
Peter Pan
Productions 1954 Broadway
1955 television
1956 television
1960 television
1979 Broadway revival
1990 Broadway revival
1998 Broadway revival
2014 television

Peter Pan is a musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan and Barrie's own novelization of it, Peter and Wendy. 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.

The original 1954 Broadway production, starring Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, earned Tony Awards for both stars. It was followed by NBC telecasts of it in 1955, 1956, and 1960 with the same stars, plus several rebroadcasts of the 1960 telecast. In 2014, the musical was broadcast on NBC featuring several new numbers, and starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. The show has enjoyed several revivals onstage.

Background and original 1954 production

Several productions of Peter Pan were staged early in the 20th century, starting in London in 1904, starring Nina Boucicault as Peter[1] and on Broadway in 1905, starring Maude Adams. In a nod to the original play, and the pantomime tradition it derives from, the title role of Peter Pan in the musical is usually played by a woman, including Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby, among others.[2]

Producer Edwin Lester, founder and director of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, acquired the American rights to adapt Peter Pan as a play with music for Mary Martin. The show was not successful in its pre-Broadway West Coast tour, so director Jerome Robbins hired lyricists Comden and Green and composer Jule Styne to add more songs, including "Never Never Land," "Distant Melody" and several other numbers, turning the show into a full-scale musical.[3] The musical, instead of using Barrie's original ending, in which Peter simply let Wendy and the other children return home, includes an additional scene that Barrie had written later and titled An Afterthought (later included by Barrie in his 1911 novelization Peter and Wendy). In this ending, Peter returns after many years to take Wendy back to Never Never Land for spring cleaning. He finds that he has been away so long that Wendy is now an adult, married woman with a daughter. Despondent at first, he is delighted when Wendy's daughter Jane offers to be his new mother, and instead takes her with him.[4]

The musical premiered at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco on July 19, 1954. The initial four-week run was followed by an eight-week engagement in Los Angeles.[5] The show opened on Broadway on October 20, 1954 at the Winter Garden Theatre for a planned limited run of 152 performances.[6] The busy 1954 Broadway season also included The Boy Friend, Fanny, Silk Stockings and Damn Yankees. While still in tryouts, a deal was made for Peter Pan to be broadcast on the NBC anthology series Producers' Showcase on March 7, 1955, which ensured that it was a financial success despite the limited run. The revised score and Tony Award-winning performances by Martin and Cyril Ritchard made the musical a critical success, and tickets sold out throughout the Broadway run. The show closed on February 26, 1955 to prepare for the television broadcast.[3][7]

A Broadway cast album was made of the songs, and it is still in print today.

Television productions

In 1954, Fred Coe, production manager for NBC in New York, began producing Producers' Showcase, a 90-minute anthology series that aired every fourth Monday for three seasons. One aim of the series was to broadcast expensive color spectaculars to promote the new color television system developed by NBC's parent company RCA.[8]

Martin as Peter Pan.

On March 7, 1955, NBC presented Peter Pan live as part of Producers' Showcase (with nearly all of the show's original cast) as the first full-length Broadway production on color TV.[9] The show attracted a then-record audience of 65-million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television program.[10][11] Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard had already won Tony Awards for their stage performances, and Martin won an Emmy Award for the television production. It was so well received that the musical was restaged live for television (again on Producers' Showcase) on January 9, 1956.[12] Both of these broadcasts were produced live and in color, but only black-and-white kinescope recordings survive.

Peter Pan was restaged on December 8, 1960,[13] this time in a 100-minute version rather than 90 minutes (not counting the commercials),[14] and with a slightly different cast because the original children had outgrown their roles. Producers' Showcase had long since gone off the air, so the 1960 production was intended as a "stand alone" special instead of an episode of an anthology series. Act II was split into two acts, for a total of five acts instead of three, to allow for more commercial breaks. This version was videotaped in color at NBC's Brooklyn studio. Martin was also starring in Broadway's The Sound of Music at the time. The production was directed for television by Vincent J. Donehue, who received a Director's Guild Award for it.[15] Peter Foy re-created the signature flying sequences he had staged for the 1954 Broadway production and the two Producers' Showcase broadcasts.[16] This 1960 version was rebroadcast in 1963, 1966 and 1973.[17] The video tape of that production was restored and rebroadcast by NBC on March 24, 1989, then again on March 31, 1991, after which it went to the Disney Channel, where it was shown several times more. Beginning in 1989, the program was slightly cut to make room for more commercial time. Eliminated completely was a dance that Liza (the Darling family maid) and the animals of Neverland perform to an orchestral version of Never Never Land. Also eliminated was Mary Martin's curtain speech at the end thanking NBC for making the program possible, which, in the 1960, 1963, and 1966 telecasts led directly into the closing credits. Gone also was the intertitle bearing the credit Peter Pan: Act III, but not the other intertitle credits, so that the show seemed to be performed in three acts, just as in the stage version.

This 1960 production of Peter Pan was released on VHS home video in 1990 and on DVD on October 19, 1999.[18] None of the three Mary Martin television versions of Peter Pan was telecast from a theatre with a live audience. All three were performed in the NBC studios.

In 2014, NBC broadcast Peter Pan Live!, a new production of the musical starring Allison Williams as Peter, Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, Kelli O'Hara as Mrs. Darling, Christian Borle as Mr. Darling/Mr. Smee and Minnie Driver as the adult Wendy.[19] Critical reviews were mixed, with many reviewers expressing relief that the broadcast was not a disaster.[20]

Casts of major productions

Character 1954 Broadway 1955 & 1956 broadcasts 1960 broadcast 1979 Broadway 1990 Broadway 1991 Broadway 1998 & 1999 Broadway 2014 Broadcast
Peter Pan Mary Martin Sandy Duncan Cathy Rigby Allison Williams
Captain Hook Cyril Ritchard George Rose Stephen Hanan J. K. Simmons Paul Schoeffler Christopher Walken
Mr. Darling Christian Borle
Mrs. Darling Margalo Gillmore Beth Fowler Lauren Thompson Barbara McCulloh Kelli O'Hara[21]
Wendy Darling Kathleen Nolan Maureen Bailey[14] Marsha Kramer Cindy Robinson Elisa Sagardia Taylor Louderman
Tiger Lily Sondra Lee Maria Pogee Holly Irwin Michelle Schumacher Dana Solimando Alanna Saunders
Michael Darling Joseph Stafford Tom Halloran Kent Fletcher[14] Jonathan Ward Chad Hutchison Joey Cee Drake English John Allyn[22]
John Darling Robert Harrington Joey Trent[14] Alexander Winter Britt West David Burdick| Chase Kniffen Barry Cavanagh Jake Lucas[22]
Smee Joe E. Marks Arnold Soboloff Don Potter Michael Nostrand Christian Borle

Later revivals

The show was revived in 1979 on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, produced by Nancy and Ronnie Horowitz, starring Sandy Duncan and George Rose, and ran for 554 performances. Duncan was nominated for the Best Actress Tony, and the show was nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.[23][23]

A third Broadway 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 former Olympic 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.[23][24] It was then recorded at the La Mirada Theater for broadcast in October 2000 on the A&E Network. The video release cuts the program to about 96 minutes and was shot using eight cameras, produced by Line By Line Productions for McCoy/Rigby Entertainment, directed by Gary Halvorson and produced by Marc Bauman. Designers of the production were John Iacovelli (set), Shigeru Yaji (costumes) and Martin Aronstein (lights). Flying illusions are by ZFX Inc. Craig Barna is the musical director. It reconceived the potentially offensive "Ugg-a-Wugg" song about Native Americans as a percussive dance number. The flying effects were changed to include some flights that were not practical to do in the theatrical version, such as the somersault flips during "I'm Flying", and electronically erasing the wires.[25]

Jack Noseworthy is the only male actor to have played Peter Pan on Broadway; he was an understudy in the revue Jerome Robbins' Broadway.[26]


Act I

The Darling Nursery

As Mr. and Mrs. Darling prepare for an evening out, two of their children, Wendy and John, play at being their parents. When Mrs. Darling notices Michael is left out, she gets him into the game and joins in with all of them ("1, 2, 3") watched by the dog Nana, their nursemaid. When Mr. Darling comes in to have his tie tied, he questions having a dog as a nursemaid, but Mrs. Darling defends her. The previous week, while the children slept, Nana saw a boy in the room who flew out of the window before she could catch him, leaving behind his shadow, which Mrs. Darling has put away in a drawer. In spite of this, Mr. Darling insists on Nana spending the night downstairs. Mrs. Darling and the children sing a lullaby ("Tender Shepherd").

Peter Pan shows the Darling children he can fly.

The children fall asleep. A fairy, Tinker Bell, and Peter Pan fly in through the window to look for his shadow. Wendy is woken up by the boy's cries when he is unable to re-attach his shadow and helps him by sewing it back on. Peter is thrilled when his shadow is re-attached ("I've Gotta Crow") and tells her that he lives in Neverland ("Never Never Land") with the Lost Boys. Wendy wakes her brothers up, and Peter invites them all to Neverland, and promises to teach them to fly. Peter happily launches himself into the air ("I'm Flying").

Peter sprinkles the children with fairy dust and tells them to "think lovely thoughts" ("I'm Flying – Reprise"). The children follow Peter, but Michael goes back when maid Liza comes into the room, giving her some of his fairy dust and inviting her to come to Neverland with them.

Act II

Never Land

Peter's "Lost Boys" are standing outside their underground lair, wondering when he will return, when they hear Captain Hook and his pirates ("Pirate Song"). The boys hide. Hook tells Smee, his right-hand man, that he wants to kill Peter, because he cut off his hand and threw it to a crocodile, which has since then developed a taste for Hook and follows him around. Luckily for Hook, the crocodile has swallowed a clock that ticks and alerts 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. The pirates flee, and the Boys reappear, thinking they are safe. Suddenly, a group of "Indians" appears, led by Tiger Lily ("Indians"). They leave the Boys alone, and go on hunting the pirates.

The Lost Boys suddenly spot Wendy in the sky and taking her for a bird, one of them shoots an arrow. Peter, Michael and John land to find the arrow lodged in her heart, although she isn't dead. The Lost Boys build a house around her, hoping that she will become their mother ("Wendy"), to which, when she wakes up, she agrees. Hook plants the cake, but Wendy doesn't let the children eat it as she knows it wouldn't be good for them; instead, she tells 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". After the pirates leave for their ship, Liza arrives and dances with the animals of Neverland while Peter keeps watch outside the house.[27]

A few days pass with everyone having adventures. One day in the forest, after Peter leads the Boys in their anthem ("I Won't Grow Up"), they almost run into the pirates, who have captured Tiger Lily and tie her to a tree. Peter hides and mimics Hook's voice, ordering the men to release her. When Hook arrives, he is enraged and demands that the "spirit of the forest" speak to him. Peter tricks them all into thinking he is Hook, and that the real Hook is a codfish. Hook asks the "spirit" to reveal its true identity. Peter obliges, pretending to be a "beautiful lady" ("Oh, My Mysterious Lady") and Hook and his pirates try to ambush Peter, but they are chased away by Tiger Lily and her tribe of Native Americans.

Back at the hideout, Tiger Lily and her tribe 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 will not go because he knows he will grow up if he does. Wendy tells him she will come back once a year to do his spring cleaning.

The pirates attack and subdue the Indians. They give Peter a fake 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. After she tearfully leaves, Peter, who pretended not to care, throws himself on a bed and cries himself to sleep. As they leave the underground house, Wendy and the boys are captured by the pirates. Hook then sneaks into the lair and poisons Peter's medicine. Tinker Bell awakens Peter, tells him of the ambush, and warns him about the poison, but he waves her off as he prepares for a rescue. 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 asks the audience to believe and clap their hands. They do, and Tinker Bell is saved. Peter grabs his sword and heads off to rescue Wendy and the Boys.


The Jolly Roger

Hook revels in his success ("Hook's Waltz"). As the plank is prepared, Hook hears the tick-tock of the crocodile and panics. It is 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. A third pirate, Starkey, refuses to obey Hook's order to go in and jumps overboard. 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" (named so because Peter still crows after killing the pirates) 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 and animals attack, as well as the Boys who are alive and armed. The pirates are all defeated, and Peter challenges Hook to a duel and defeats him. Hook threatens to blow up the ship with a bomb, but runs into the real crocodile (whom 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. As Peter puts his fingers in his ears, the bomb explodes and Hook is either blown to smithereens or is eaten by the crocodile. Everyone sings Peter's praises ("I've Gotta Crow" [reprise]). Before the Darling children and the Lost Boys go 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 the return of their children. The children silently reappear and sing to their mother ("Tender Shepherd" [reprise]). The Darlings happily agree to adopt the Lost Boys ("We Will Grow Up"). Wendy promises to wait for Peter, hoping that one day he will return for her.

Years pass, and Peter returns to the nursery, surprising a much older Wendy, who no longer expected him. He has come to take her to Neverland for Spring cleaning, but she declines as she is now grown up; married with a daughter of her own, Jane. Peter starts 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 Neverland 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 wouldn't grow up" fly off into the night as Wendy watches from the window. ("Finale: Never Never Land [Reprise]")

Musical numbers

Original Broadway production [28]

Title Sung by Music Lyrics
"Overture" Jule Styne
Moose Charlap
"Tender Shepherd" Wendy, John, Michael, and Mrs. Darling Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"I've Gotta Crow" Peter Pan Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Never Never Land" Peter Pan Jule Styne Comden and Green
"I'm Flying" Peter Pan, Wendy, John, Michael Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Pirate Song" Captain Hook and Pirates Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Hook's Tango" Captain Hook and Pirates Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Indians" Tiger Lily and Indians Moose Charlap Moose Charlap
"Wendy" Peter Pan and Lost Boys Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Hook's Tarantella" Captain Hook and Pirates Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Never Never Land"
(instrumental reprise, no vocal)
(cut on TV showings after 1973)
Danced by Liza and the Animals Jule Styne
arranged by Trude Rittman
"I Won't Grow Up" Peter Pan, Slightly, Curly, Twins and Lost Boys Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Oh, My Mysterious Lady" Peter Pan and Captain Hook Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Wendy" (reprise)
(cut on TV showings after 1973)
Wendy and the Lost Boys Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Ugg-a-Wugg" Peter Pan, Tiger Lily, Children and Indians Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Distant Melody" Peter Pan Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Captain Hook's Waltz" Captain Hook and Pirates Jule Styne Comden and Green
"Reprise: I Gotta Crow" Peter Pan, Company Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Reprise: Tender Shepherd" Wendy, John and Michael Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"We Will Grow Up " The Darling Family, Lost Boys Moose Charlap Carolyn Leigh
"Finale: Never Never Land" Peter Pan Jule Styne Comden and Green


The Darling Family

The Lost Boys: Slightly Soiled; Tootles, the youngest one; Twin #1; Twin #2; Curly; and Nibs

Tiger Lily, the Native American princess

The Pirates

There are also animals in Neverland, who make animal noises, but have no dialogue. These, like Nana, are played by people in costumes.

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1955 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Mary Martin Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Cyril Ritchard Won
Best Stage Technician Richard Rodda Won

1979 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1980 Tony Award Best Revival Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Sandy Duncan Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated

1990 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1991 Tony Award Best Revival Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Cathy Rigby Nominated

1998 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1999 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated


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  2. Pilkington, Angel M. "Peter Pan: Myth and Fantasy", Midsummer Magazine, 2000, reprinted at the Utah Shakespearean Festival website, 2007
  3. 1 2 Kenrick, John (1996–2003). "Mary Martin: "Do You Believe?"". History of The Musical Stage. pp. 1950s Part IV: The Great Dames. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  5. "Peter Pan: Original Broadway Production (1954)",, accessed March 10, 2016
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  9. Tinky "Dakota" Weisblat. "Peter Pan". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. There are errors in this article, one of them implying that Lynn Fontanne narrated the first telecast, when Patricia Wheel narrated it. Ms. Fontanne narrated the 1960 telecast. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  10. Ed Reitan. "RCA-NBC Firsts in Color Television". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  12. "PRODUCERS' SHOWCASE: PETER PAN {TAPE 1 OF 2} (TV)". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  13. MovieWeb. "Peter Pan (1960)". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "Peter Pan (1960)(TV)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  15. Elisabeth Elkind. "Inventory of the Vincent J. Donehue Papers, 1946–1965". The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  16. Martin, Mary "My Heart Belongs", pp. 203–210, William Morrow and Co., Inc. 1976 ISBN 0-688-03009-2
  17. The Internet Movie Database. "Peter Pan (1960)". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  18. "Peter Pan (1960)". Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  19. Gans, Andrew. "Girls Star Lands Coveted Title Role in NBC's Peter Pan Live!",, July 30, 2014
  20. Hetrick, Adam. "The Verdict: Read Reviews of Peter Pan Live! on NBC", Playbill, December 4, 2014
  22. 1 2 Hetrick, Adam (7 October 2014). "Handful of Broadway Newsies Make Up Peter Pan's Lost Boys and Swashbuckling Pirates". Playbill. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  23. 1 2 3
  26. Jack Noseworthy at the IMDB database
  27. Mary Martin (actor) (1960-12-08). Peter Pan (Videotape). New York: National Broadcasting Company/GoodTimes Home Video Corporation. ISBN 1-55510-505-X.
  28. "Peter Pan/Songs in this production". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved 2009-01-18.

Further reading

Sondra Lee: I've Slept With Everybody: A Memoir by Sondra Lee. Albany, 2009. BearManor Media. ISBN 1-59393-463-7.

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