What we learned during 'The Making of Peter Pan Live!'
With Peter Pan Live! only a week away, NBC teased their production Wednesday night with a documentary aptly titled The Making of Peter Pan Live! Though EW has already discussed the new songs and Tinkerbell’s digital makeover, the special gave us a taste of what the show is actually going to look like, and it’s lavish. The Neverland set has a technicolor edge to it—in fact, it has a look that resembles the 1939 Wizard of Oz or the Disney Wonderland—replete with a treasure map floor and giant trees of roses. All of that will be captured by roughly 16 cameras, television director Glenn Weiss explained.
The special also let audiences hear some of the new numbers: “Vengeance,” a zippy pirate production number, and “Only Pretend,” a softer ballad for Wendy. Additionally, here are some things we learned:
Williams herself told the Darling boys they got their parts
The special opened with some especially adorable footage of the auditions for the parts of John and Michael Darling. Those parts ended up going to Jake Lucas and John Allyn, who were told of their success by Williams herself. Allyn, playing the little Michael, began to cry. “No crying in Neverland,” Williams coached.
Everything Walken says is magic
Okay, you probably already knew this, but Christopher Walken is a national treasure, and his presence alone makes Peter Pan Live! worth watching. As Christian Borle (Mr. Darling and Smee) said, “We have sword fights, flying, children, dogs, and Christopher Walken? What could go wrong?” Walken added: “Dancing with a hat on, think about it.” We still are, and we’re not sure what he means, but it’s Christopher Walken, so we’re going to take his word for it. (Most of what Walken said during the special was hilarious, but would sound mundane if quoted here. It just needs that Walken touch.) Walken, according to executive producer Neil Meron, accepted the role with the caveat that he had to dance, making him the “most dancing-est Captain Hook there’s ever been.” And, yes, a lot of dancing was on display from the pirates. According to Walken, his Hook is going to be a lot like, well, Christopher Walken. Fine with us.
Williams had to master both flying and choreography
According to Williams, her most challenging choreography comes in the number “True Blood Brothers” (formerly “Ugg-a-Wugg”). “By the way that’s not saying much,” she said. “Most choreography is challenging for me.” And then, of course, there’s the flying. The company responsible for the flying, Flying By Foy, is a veteran at Peter Pans, but Williams still had to master, for instance, the “complicated” task of flying through the window. “The only real anxiety I have about my flying is that something will happen, I’ll get nervous night of, and I’ll fly through the window backwards,” Williams said. “I think about it more than I care to admit.” In one bit of rehearsal footage, she performed a flip while holding a sword. Williams’s explanation of her experience? Rubbing her belly while patting her head.
Peter and Wendy’s relationship is complicated
Williams highlighted the fact that the relationship between Peter and Wendy is more, well, complicated than she initially thought. Peter brings Wendy to Neverland hoping she’ll be a mother, Wendy meanwhile starts to seek something in Peter that’s not reciprocated. “Like many boys, he’s very oblivious,” Williams said. The special then gave a taste of the sweet-sounding “Only Pretend,” which Wendy sings in a boat ride that gives The Phantom of the Opera a run for its money. Yes, mermaids show up.
Tink is computer-generated, but Nana is live
Though Nana has historically been played by a person in a dog costume, this time around Nana is played by an actual dog named Bowdie trained by William Berloni. Though Meron explained that having a live dog always poses a risk, Bowdie seemed to be on top of his cues, though, admittedly, the footage was selective.