Tag Archives: Peter Pan

Peter Pan and Wendy at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC

This is the last weekend to catch Peter Pan and Wendy at the Shakespeare Theatre here in Washington, but tickets are still available for all remaining performances.

This being the 21st century, the show is notable for its non-traditional casting. Not only is Tinkerbell played by an actress, rather than by the usual flashlight beam or laser pointer, but Nana the dog is actually played by a dog, instead of by a man in a dog suit! Peter Pan and Wendy are given equal billing in the title. Most transgressive of all, Peter Pan is played by a young male, instead of by a mature lady!  Pretty woke, eh?

Here are some images from the show’s website:

The Darling Children's Bedroom

The Darling Children’s Bedroom

Pirates!

Pirates!

Yes, Pirates! And smart pirates, too. Not a one of them is smiling at that crocodile.

The Pirate Ship

The Pirate Ship

Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell

Wendy and Peter

Wendy and Peter


A Memorable Performance

Peter Pan has been performed on stage for more than a hundred years, but only rarely has a production been more memorable than the one that has become known as the “Greenport (Long Island) High School Peter Pan Fiasco of 2007”.

And cheers to the young cast, who kept their heads through all the chaos, knowing that The Show Must Go On.


Playing Peter Pan

In the Elizabethan Age, women were barred by law from appearing on stage, and female roles were played by men. In theatrical versions of Peter Pan, on the other hand, the role of Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, was traditionally played by a mature woman.

Some examples:

Jean Arthur was almost 50 years old when she played the role in the1950 Broadway production, and she was such a brilliant actress that she made it work. The show had music by Leonard Bernstein, and Boris Karloff playing the Captain Hook/George Darling roles

Mary Martin, 41, won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in the 1954 Broadway version. After the show had closed, the cast reunited for a live broadcast of the production on NBC TV. It attracted 65 million viewers, which, at the time, was the biggest audience ever for a TV show.

Cathy Rigby was only 20 when she first played the role in 1974, but she starred in the musical’s 1990 Broadway revival, and then toured the show. She played Peter Pan into her 60s, retiring in 2013.

Religious Jokes by Dave Allen

Dave Allen was a frequently “controversial” Irish comedian who was active from the late 1950s through the very early 1990s.  He worked with everyone from just-starting-out Beatles to Maggie Smith (in a production of Peter Pan, with Allen playing  “Mr Darling” and “Captain Hook”) to vaudeville star Sophie Tucker.

He was briefly banned from Australian media in the 60s, and criticized in Parliament for “offensive language” after a joke on the BBC in the 90s.  (“We spend our lives on the run.  We get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, go to work by the clock, get up again, go to work –– and then we retire.  And what do they fucking give us?  A clock.”)

As a “practising atheist” who frequently satirized religion in his comedy, Allen managed to alienate both Catholics and Protestants.  He’d end his act by toasting the audience with the words “Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you”.

A long time ago, PBS ran some of his shows in the US.  I doubt they’d do that today.