NBC Picks “Peter Pan” as Next Live Musical

Frederick M. Brown

At the Television Critics Association press tour Sunday, NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said the network has chosen “Peter Pan” as their next musical to stage and broadcast live. Based on J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play and featuring a score by Morris Charlap and Jule Styne with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, “Peter Pan” will fly onto television screens nationwide Dec. 4.

"We're very pleased to be underway on 'Peter Pan' as our next live holiday musical for the whole family," said Greenblatt, according to published reports. "In the hopes that lightning strikes twice, we think we've landed on another great Broadway musical…that is a timeless classic for all audiences, young and old, who just never want to grow up."

It is no surprise NBC has high expectations for a live telecast of “Peter Pan.” “The Sound of Music Live” scored big numbers for the network. The Dec. 5, 2013 broadcast brought in 21.3 million total viewers -- 18.6 million viewers live and an additional 2.7 million viewers via delayed DVR viewing. A Dec. 14, 2013 re-air attracted another 3.16 million viewers. DVD and soundtrack sales have also scored well. 

Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also produced last year’s hit “The Sound of Music Live,” will once again return as producers. No casting has been announced yet, but Greenblatt mentioned that the role of Peter, traditionally played by a woman, would likely go to a male actor. (Calling Chris Colfer…).

This isn’t the first time NBC has staged a live production of “Peter Pan.” The network’s 1955 broadcast of the 1954 Broadway production drew 65 million viewers – the highest ratings for a single night programming at that time. It was also the first broadcast of a musical in color. Subsequent broadcasts occurred in 1956 and 1960.

Like the original Broadway production of “The Sound of Music,” the original Broadway production of “Peter Pan” -- and all three NBC broadcasts -- starred the late Mary Martin.

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