Peter Pan - LIVE! With Kathryn Terza

Just two weeks ago, on December 4th, the world was treated to a new televised version of Peter Pan – LIVE! Frankly, Peter Pan was never one of my favorite musicals but I can’t help but smile knowing how many people tuned in to see a Broadway musical on their own TV set. According to official reports, 9.21 million people tuned in to see Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook. On top of that 475,000 tweets were posted and seen by 106.9 million people. It’s crazy to think that in an average year about 12 million people take in a Broadway show. And yet, with Peter Pan LIVE! over 9 million people saw it IN ONE NIGHT... That’s a lot of talk about Broadway!!

As with the Sound of Music LIVE! starring Carrie Underwood last year there was a lot of “twitter-hating”. Viewers had very strong opinions about this beloved musical and weren’t afraid to take to social media to make those feelings known. Safely concealed by the anonymity of a computer, many comments and tweets were quite scathing. Having seen the fallout and reactions from The Sound of Music LIVE! last year many of the cast members, including Peter Pan herself, made sure to address the “twitter-hating” prior to the telecast.

Naturally there are going to be challenges along the way in pulling off such a large production. 46 cast members, over 350 crew members, dogs, children, and flying amount to a lot of possibilities for catastrophes, especially given the live nature. I would imagine one huge comfort to the creative team was that they had something from the past to reference: Peter Pan was originally aired on NBC in 1955, 1956 and 1960 starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard.

Last week I was walking through The Lincoln Center Library For The Performing Arts and I came across a small display case that caught my eye. Inside were assembled some of the original production notes from the 1955 and 1956 telecasts and the changes that were made to adapt it for TV from the original Broadway run. It provided a beautiful look at the minute details from those rehearsals over 50 years ago! The page that really caught my eye was a lyric sheet with red pencil markings on the right hand side. Looking closer I realized these were notes made by Vincent Donehue who directed the 1956 telecast. “Tiger - Too loud” and “Too many faces” were great indications of the technical differences between the stage and screen. In 50 years nothing has changed!

Peter Pan Notes

One other document they had on display was an original rehearsal schedule they utilized in the early stages of development prior to filming. My favorite note on that page was in a box at the bottom explaining why each fly rehearsal was only scheduled for a short time: “Flying men poop out after an hour or so rehearsing”. Thanks to the Lincoln Center Library and the generous donation of Leonard Bernstein’s papers we all get a glimpse into the details of the past and I can’t help but smile. If that’s not Broadway Up Close then I don’t know what is!

Peter Pan Rehearsal Schedule

One of the various 46 cast members who comprised the ensemble of Peter Pan – LIVE! was an actress named Kathryn Terza who I worked with this past year on a production of Lysistrata Jones. I could tell from the first day of rehearsal how ridiculously talented she was, so it was no surprise to me to hear she had landed a part in the new NBC telecast this year. She can sing, she can dance, she can act and she’s hilarious! She’s a true triple threat! What part did she play in Peter Pan – LIVE!, you ask? Kathryn donned scales, a seashell bra and an octopus-shaped wig to transform into one of the mermaids inhabiting Neverland.

Katie Terza Mermaid