Tag Archives: Christian Borle

Bangarang Peter- Peter Pan Live Review

 

Peter Pan is the immortal youth. He is energetic, optimistic, intelligent and just a little full of himself.

Last night, NBC aired Peter Pan Live. Starring in the title role was Allison Williams. Playing Peter’s long time nemesis, Captain Hook was Christopher Walken.

Using the same format as they did last with the Sound Of Music (live television program, classic family friendly musical, hiring Broadway and non Broadway actors), NBC has created a new tradition.

The supporting cast included Taylor Louderman as teenage Wendy, Christian Borle doubling as Smee/Mr. Darling, Kelli O’Hara as Mrs. Darling and Minnie Driver as the narrator/adult Wendy whom we meet briefly at the end of the program.

I liked this Peter Pan. Whatever was missing from Sound Of Music last year was not missing from Peter Pan. Despite being known for non Broadway roles,  Williams and Walken were well cast.  Williams played Peter with the right mixture of youthful energy and silent questioning. Walken, for his part, was foppish, but with just enough menace to keep the audience on their toes. The supporting cast, especially Broadway veterans Borle and O’Hara gave the program a nice authentic Broadway feeling. Louderman, as the teenage Wendy, represented the feelings and changes that many of us go through in our early teens. The icing on the cake was Driver as the adult Wendy, giving the audience both a nice ending for her adventures with Peter, while opening the door for her daughter’s adventures with Peter.

There was some changes from the stage production, most notably that the Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are usually played by the same actor.  But I was fine with the choice of Smee and Mr. Darling played by Borle instead.  The only thing that was missing was the authentic Broadway audience reaction. I’ve seen Peter Pan on Broadway. The reaction of the audience, which is mostly young kids is immediate and powerful. The scene where Tinkerbell has drunk the poison and Peter breaks the fourth wall to bring her back to life is not the same as it is front of a live audience.

But overall, I have to say that it was enjoyable and I cannot get those songs out of my head.

And I could not stop thinking about Robin Williams. I think he would love this Peter Pan.

 

 

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Television

The Critics Were Wrong-Smash (2012-2013)

There is a mystique about putting together a Broadway show.  It all seems so easy. But in reality, it takes time and a lot of work, both on and off stage.

The 2012 television series, Smash  took this concept and put in front of the television viewing audience.

The book writer and lyricist, Julia Houston and Tom Levitt (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) are writing a musical based on the life of iconic actress Marilyn Monroe. Directing is smarmy British director Derek Wills (Jack Davenport). Behind the scenes producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) is doing all she can to bring the show to Broadway. Competing for the lead role is fresh from the farm ingenue Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) and pulling herself up by her bootstraps chorus girl Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty).

Was the drama a little hyped up? I’m sure it was. Was the writing, especially in season 2 after taking on a new show runner a little questionable? Yes.

But sometimes, we need this kind of television, even if the critics hate it.

 

 

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Sound Of Music Review- Not Music To My Ears

This past Thursday, NBC aired a live telecast of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical The Sound Of Music.

Any national or Broadway revival of this musical will obviously be compared to the original production from the 1950’s with Mary Martin in the lead role and the iconic 1965 movie.

Carrie Underwood as Maria was an interesting choice by the producers. Yes, the woman can sing. One does not win American Idol and sell as many albums as she has without the ability to sing as well as she does. However, singing your own songs on a concert stage or acting in a music video which will ultimately be less than five minutes long is very different than playing one of the most iconic characters in musical theater.  Did she know her lines? Yes. But there was little emotion behind those lines.

And now to Stephen Moyer. A great actor who is incredibly sexy on True Blood. And so wrong for Captain Von Trapp.

He is age appropriate and is as much as a name as Carrie Underwood. I don’t expect him to hit the high notes that Maria hits, but I found him to be stiff and his singing to be simply underwhelming.  The Captain is emotionally closed off and stiff at the beginning of the story, but that is his character. Even when he began to open himself up to his children and become the father they needed, Moyer just wasn’t doing it for me. I found myself wishing that Christopher Plummer was still young enough to play this part again.

The upshot to this production was the decision to hire Broadway veterans to fill out the adult supporting roles. Audra McDonald (Mother Abbess), Laura Benanti (Elsa Schrader) and Christian Borle (Max Detweiler).  Benati played Maria in the last revival, perhaps she might have imparted some advice to Underwood.

I applaud NBC for this undertaking, a live televised production of one of the most beloved musicals is not an easy thing to pull off. But next time, if there is a next time, I would recommend choose actors who actually have musical theater credentials and not just pop stars and TV actors who can sing.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Reviews