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Theatre: Peter Pan

Besides being a stage play in one of its original incarnations (refer to the main article), Peter Pan has been adapted as a musical twice.

The first was done in 1950 and is the lesser known of the two, although it was done by Broadway legend Leonard Bernstein (of West Side Story fame). It was originally staged with only 5 songs. Since 2000, new productions have been put on incorporating the previously Cut Songs and generally restoring the work to the original written version.

The version most people think of when they think of Peter Pan: The Musical is the 1954 version originally staring Mary Martin as Peter (the musical continues the tradition of cross-casting women as young boy Peter to this day). Its notability can be attributed to the fact that NBC aired live stagings of the play several times between 1954 and 1960, to excellent ratings. The 1960 production was released on VHS tape (and DVD since), making it the canonical version of the show. In January 2014, NBC announced that December will see yet another live televising of the musical, with a different cast.

The 1954 play contains examples of:


  • Acting for Two: Mr. Darling and Captain Hook are played by the same actor, which, like Peter being played by a woman, is tradition. Wendy also plays her own daughter, Jane, when Peter returns years later.
    • Interestingly, J.M. Barrie's original intent was to have the same actor/actress for Captain Hook and Mrs Darling. Whether the actor would be male or female is unknown.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: While certainly not the first, this is one of the better known musicals based off Peter Pan.
  • Anthropomorphic Animal: Nana the dog and the crocodile play a big role, and the 1954 taped version also features a kangaroo, bespectacled lion and ostrich-type bird that live in Neverland and befriend Peter and Liza.
  • Audience Monologue: Hook goes off into one in the middle of "Hook's Waltz" as he ponders over his own immortality as a villain and what effect it has, particularly how when playing games, kids will always want to be Peter Pan instead of him. He also mentions how can't break it to Smee that children actually find him lovable.
    Hook: That's where the canker g-naws! No! By-carbonate of soda, no!
  • Audience Participation: Clapping to save Tinker Bell.
  • Badass Boast: Peter gets a few in before his big fight with Hook.
    "I am youth. I am joy. I am freedom!!"
  • Berserk Button: Capt. Hook will panic everytime he hears a clock ticking since he knows that's when the crocodile is near. Peter uses this to his advantage to get his friends, himself and the real crocodile on board the Jolly Roger for the climax.
  • Big Bad: Captain Hook.
  • Big Damn Heroes: While in the book the Never Bird saves Peter from drowning, in the musical Tiger Lily does.
  • Big Entrance: The 1954 special shows Peter soaring into the Darling nursery as the shutters open themselves to let him in. Captain Hook gets this as he's preceded by a band of singing pirates (one of them playing a huge drum) while he's carried onstage on a litter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Peter defeats Captain Hook and the Darlings return home, taking the Lost Boys with them who are then adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Darling. Wendy goes to the window calling out for Peter to remember to come back for her in the spring...flash forward to many years later when Peter does return only to find Wendy has grown up. They are both saddened until Peter meets her daughter, Jane, who has heard all about Peter from her mother's stories and wants to be Peter's mother. Peter is overjoyed and takes her to Neverland. Wendy begs him to take her too but they both know he can't.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "I Won't Grow Up"
    Peter: I won't grow up!
    Lost Boys: I won't grow up!
    Peter: I don't want to go to school!
    Lost Boys: I don't want to go to school!
    Peter: Just to learn to be a parrot-
    Lost Boys: Just to learn to be a parrot-
    Peter: And recite a silly rule!
    Lost Boys: And recite a silly rule!
    • The reprise of this, "We Will Grow Up" is the same, as are the reprises of "I Gotta Crow", the first of which doubles as a Crowd Song.
  • Chewing the Scenery:If there's something Hook is known for other than his infamous appendage, this would be it.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The Trope Namer. Peter begs this of the audience when it looks like Tinker Bell is dying so she can get well again.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tinker Bell. Wendy has shades of this also, as she starts tearing up at the thought of Peter finding another little girl and bringing her to Neverland after she leaves.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Peter is too immature to see that Tinker Bell and Wendy obviously have feelings for him.
  • Cooland Unusual Punishment: In the third act it's revealed Mr. Darling has been living in Nana's doghouse as a form of self-punishment for chaining her up in the yard and allowing the children to fly away.
  • The Croc Is Ticking: The Trope Namer.
  • Crosscast Role: Peter, who has always been played by a girl starting from Mary Martin to Cathy Rigby. The only time he was ever played on stage by a man was an understudy.
  • Crowd Song: "Ugg-a-Wugg"
  • Cut Song: Most showings of the taped special and revivals of the musical omit Liza's ballet with the animals of Neverland and the Lost Boys' reprise of "Wendy".
  • Dirty Coward: Tiger Lily and her Indian tribe. Exaggerated during the Indian dance where at the end the slightest noise from the last Indian scares her and the entire group away, downplayed when she tells her tribe to run when they see the "Wendy bird" flying nearby ("Ancient Indian Proverb - When in doubt, RUN!!!!") and when she "volunteers" to keep watch for pirates after the party with the lost boys, and finally averted when she and the tribe return to save Peter and later help him fight the pirates on the ship.
  • Distressed Damsel: Poor Wendy, poor Wendy...
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: At one point Peter tricks Hook into thinking Peter is a lady ( "It's a lady! It's a BEAUTIFUL lady!" ), which would classify as Squick if it wasn't for the fact that Peter is always played by a girl, so the trope is more played with than anything else.
  • Dying Declaration Of Hate: Hook has one directed at Peter before falling to the croc.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: During Hook's Waltz, Hook refers to himself as "Mrs. Hook's Little Baby Boy".
  • Evil Is Hammy: Captain Hook to a T.
  • Follow the Leader: The success of the 1950s televisings motivated the networks to air several other fantasy musicals. Among others, Cinderella became the highest-rated TV program of its time, and The Wizard of Oz (which actually made its big-screen debut 15 years before Peter Pan's first airing) became a yearly tradition across the country.
  • Generation Xerox: Wendy's daughter Jane, since they're played by the same actress.
  • Growing Up Sucks: The whole message of "I Won't Grow Up".
  • Hook Hand: Guess who?
  • "I Am" Song/I Am Great Song: "I Gotta Crow" for Peter, as he's bragging how great he is (Justified because he can fly and never grow old, even though it also shows how conceited he is). "Hook's Waltz" for Hook, though it's also a subversion of The Villain Sucks Song.
  • Large Ham: Required for most, if not all the roles in the musical.
  • Killed Off for Real: Captain Hook, though whether he was eaten by the crocodile or blown to bits by the bomb Peter threw overboard is anyone's guess. Subverted for most of the pirates, as they are stabbed or shot by Captain Hook during his big musical number but a few are killed offstage by Peter when he hides aboard the Jolly Roger. We also never see what happens to them after the fight, as they are taken captive and forced to join in the reprise of I've Gotta Crow" but are led offstage promptly afterwards.
  • Magical Land: Neverland, of course.
  • Mobile Shrubbery:Hook and the Pirates show up in this Paper-Thin Disguise to deliver a poisoned cake to the Lost Boys.
  • The Musical
  • Never Grew Up: Peter, of course. When he finally returns to take Wendy back to Neverland for spring cleaning, he is genuinely shocked and hurt to find that she grew up even after she promised she wouldn't. That all disappears however, when he finds Jane waiting for him...
  • Noble Savage: Tiger Lily. After Peter saves her from the pirates, she returns the favor by rescuing him with the help of her tribe (that somehow got hold of scooters) and they and the Lost Boys declare a truce.
  • Oblivious to Love: Peter's immaturity prevents him from seeing any woman as anything more than a mother figure. When Wendy asks how he feels about her, he tells her his love is that of a devoted son.
  • One Woman Song: "Wendy", sung by Peter and the Lost Boys as they build Wendy's house and exclaim how wonderful it is that she'll be their mother.
  • Opening Ballet: "1,2,3".
  • Orchestral Version: "Never Never Land". It's something of a Leitmotif, as it plays for Peter and Wendy during some of the more emotional scenes (Peter telling Wendy to come to Neverland, Wendy and the Lost Boys saying goodbye to Peter, and Wendy calling out the window for Peter to not forget to return to her). It also serves as the music for the unfortunately often-cut ballet between Liza and Neverland's animal inhabitants once she arrives.
  • Our Acts Are Different: There were originally about five acts in the musical, then reduced to four. Later editions of the taped 1954 version cut out the title card for the third act but they didn't bother to change the one appearing before the final act, which still has an "IV" on it. Nowadays the events of the musical from the Jolly Roger to the finale comprise of the third and final act.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Tinker Bell here is portrayed as a small light (or laser depending on the production) speaking in chimes and bells.
  • Pajama Clad Hero: All the Darling children. The Lost Boys too, as they are dressed in their pajamas for the latter half of the second act and all of the third.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The pirates and Hook use the classic Mobile Shrubbery disguise to deliver a poisoned cake to the Lost Boys and Peter. The boys discover the cake but fail to notice the clump of bushes that suddenly appeared along with it. After killing two of the pirates Peter pretends to be a part of the crew wearing only an eyepatch, bandana and cape.
  • Pirate: Captain Hook and his crew, of course.
  • Poison Is Evil: Captain Hook poisons Peter's medicine from Wendy, turning it a completely different color depending on the production. Peter doesn't notice the change or believe Tinker Bell's claim that it is poisoned until she drinks it to save him.
    The poison being a completely different color may have actually been a staging element so the audience knows the medicine is poisoned. The characters wouldn't see the change or know the difference.
  • The Savage Indian: Subverted. Tiger Lily and her Indians hunt the ostrich, chase after the Lost Boys and fight the Pirates at one point, but the most harm they do to the Lost Boys is a literal tug o' war with one of them, they save Peter from the pirates by chasing them away with scooters, and run away screaming at the sight of the "Wendy bird".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Notably pulled off by Tiger Lily and the Indians in the 1960 TV version when they catch sight of the "Wendy bird".
    Tiger Lily: Famous Indian Proverb: when in doubt... RUN!!!!!
  • Setting Off Song: "I'm Flying" can count as this, as Peter is teaching the children how to fly and the last verses are him saying it's time to go off on their journey.
  • Skewed Priorities: After Hook plants his poisoned cake in front of the Lost Boys' hideout, Wendy stops them from eating it right away not because it suddenly appeared on the ground but because she's already settled into her role as Team Mom and says the cake is far too rich for her "children" to eat.
  • Small Start Big Finish: During the 2nd reprise of "I Gotta Crow", Peter teaches Liza how to crow, and she becomes more confident and louder as the song progresses. When Liza isn't featured in the show, it is usually replaced by Peter and Wendy breaking the fourth wall and teaching the kids in the audience to crow instead.
  • Smug Snake: Hook.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The Indians' dance number starts out as them hunting the Lost Boys but becomes this. The Pirates are tricked into this by Peter while chasing him during "Oh My Mysterious Lady" and play it straight during "Hook's Waltz".
  • Tsundere: Tinker Bell. She's not afraid to call Peter a "silly ass" but drinks poison to save him.
  • Villain Song: Hook has several - a tango and tarantella to help him deviate a plan, and a grand waltz to revel in his premature victory.
  • The Villain Sucks Song: Subverted in "Hook's Waltz" as Hook and the pirates sings how despicable and unlovable he is and how much he loves it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After crying out how it isn't fair that Peter beat him in their final duel, Hook brings out a bomb intending to take everyone onboard with him.
  • Vindicated by Cable: Many people have fond memories of this being aired on television almost annually. Averted as how the last airing was in 1990, and unless you've actually been in the stage play, it's not likely you'll find anyone in this generation that's either watched it or heard of it. Copies of it on VHS can be very pricey, even more so with DVD since it only received a limited release in that format. Keep Circulating the Tapes, indeed!
  • Walk the Plank: Or, how Paw Dugan referred to it in his review of the 1954 version, the "Water Slide of Doom".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of Act One we see Michael give Liza some fairy dust just before he joins Peter and his siblings on the way to Neverland. Halfway through the second act we see Liza finally arrive in Neverland, engage in some dancing between some animals and sentient trees and watch Peter as he sleeps. After that we never see her again until she joins Peter, the Indians and animals for the fight aboard the Jolly Roger and then she returns home with the Darlings. What happened to her during that time?
  • When Trees Attack: Averted, and then subverted. In the 1954 taped production, the Lost Boys hide inside three trees from the Pirates and Indians and can move them about the stage, so we know they are fake. When Liza shows up, however, the trees welcome her to Neverland, bowing and dancing with her and even trading her featherduster for a bunch of balloons and a bouquet of flowers. By this time we've seen the boys enter Wendy's house but not leave, which means they could be alive after all but benevolent rather than evil.
  • Yandere: Averted. Rather than Tinker Bell telling the Lost Boys to shoot Wendy so she can have Peter to herself, the Boys see Wendy first and decide to kill her on their own.
Peter PanFranchise/Peter PanPeter Pan
Green-Eyed MonsterImageSource/OtherCross-Cast Role
Pennies from HeavenThe MusicalThe Phantom of the Opera

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