What are your thoughts on Peter and the Starcatcher, or really all Peter Pan things? I can't find myself to get into them because it just seems TOO MUCH.
I am a giant “Peter Pan” nerd, I’m afraid. I was a big fan of the Disney movie when I was a kid – and then I fell in literal love with Jeremy Sumpter’s Peter. Then I read the original novel, which lead to the original play that predated it. Somewhere in there I saw about 6 stage adaptations and a couple more movies and miniseries and a TV series and some more books. So…I have lots of Peter Pan opinions. Especially about those hipster-y “Never grow up! Kid at heart! Young forever!” people who are all over my Facebook feed (looking at YOU chick from college with the subpar cosplay).
Here’s my main thing: Peter Pan is a lot more complicated and a lot darker than most people and media want to think about. I get it. They want the nostalgia and lack of adult responsibilities, not a lesson in mortality and maturity. But, come on…the latter is so much more interesting.
Peter’s not nice. He’s a kid, and children are rarely nice. Especially when they have not been properly socialized. They’re selfish and impulsive and they don’t understand consequences – particularly consequences that have to do with other people’s feelings and well-being.
The best adaptations acknowledge this. It isn’t just that Peter’s youthful; he’s childish. But a weird kind of childishness where he’s had to survive on his own and fight and take care of himself, more like a child of the streets than a nymph.
So for that reason I like “Peter and the Starcatcher”. It shows why Peter pulls away so hard from growing up – an abusive past, nothing but horrible adults in his life, and too little time to be a carefree kid. So it makes sense when he accepts without too much protest he’s going to stay a kid alone on the island. It does all this without so much of the happy-shiny “Let’s fly and laugh at danger” many of the shows have. Plus it’s really fun and clever. I like its heart, and I love that it’s all swash-buckling and adventure-y and dangerous.
I low-key hate this version. I call it the “Mary Martin Peter Pan”. It’s the one that community theatres put on too often and that they made the live TV musical out of. It takes away any seriousness the story might have in favor of just being fun and pretty. Plus, it has Peter as a girl’s part which it HATE. Why do we always have grown women playing this young boy? Why? It’s awkward and awful. It must stop.
STOP. Though a few of these songs are catchy. I can’t deny that.
I loooooooove the Stiles and Drewe “Peter Pan”, though. It’s probably my favorite stage adaptation. This one never made it to America/Broadway for some reason. But it did rather well in England and Copenhagen, where it premiered. One of the best parts about it is that Peter is written for a guy. It’s a high tenor part which makes sense since, you know, small-framed men who dance and sing high tenor are rather abundant in the musical theatre world. It also features a more vicious Peter, with a gang of Lost Boys who are a little unsettling. And Wendy is way more developed – she gives Peter as good she gets, pretty sassy and not taking so much of his nonsense. Overall, it just hews closer to the original Barrie stories while adding GREAT music. 10/10 – buy the soundtrack now.
Another interesting, lesser-known adaptation is “Darling”. It’s a musical by Ryan Scott Oliver, and it’s much more freely adapted. It’s set in the streets of Boston in the 1920s.
I like that it’s so different than all the other versions out there. Plus, the music is jazzy and soulful and so much fun. Everyone is darker with a sad past. And then this young woman is finding a strange new world every bit as exotic to her as Neverland.