The Mary Martin Musical Version
This version is a “play” version, meant to be on stage or live television. Hence it has many of the restrictions placed on stage works. Peter hides behind the curtain when Nana barks and Liza slips in with her. Nothing really happens, but it gives Peter a chance to get out of the harness. In a filmed or taped version this isn’t needed.
It also means that certain stage effects are likely to have greater impact like flying and hence Peter’s first act entrance is (or should be) a moment to be savored..
This version was done for TV and then moved to Broadway. It is not quite a play version in that it lacks an audience.
The earlier version (which is in the equipment room on CD so you can listen to it) stars Jean Arthur as Peter and Boris Karloff as Hook. This is an early musical version. Barrie was said to be against turning it into a musical although there are clearly songs in the play version he wrote (e.g. the pirate song) as well as Peter’s line “If Wendy could only sing the kind of house she wanted”.
The Jean Arthur version has music in it – written by no les a composer than Leonard Bernstein. The major problem was that Jean Arthur can’t sing, so the result is a peculiar musical in which the main character has no songs. On the other hand Wendy sings a lullaby, a song called “Peter, Peter” about touching Peter; and a song called “Build My House” about what kind of house she does want. There is a good deal of incidental music included as well and it is to be released soon on CD.
The result was that after that version closed, work began on a full musical version of Peter Pan which would have Mary Martin – a well known singer with a long Broadway career as Peter.
The cuts are made partially because the songs take up so much time. The cuts are numerous. There are a few additions which are rather brief. . The mermaids’ lagoon scene is cut completely (along with the mermaids) and what is left of the scene is played in the woods so that Hook’s “20 Questions” game is still left in. References to barring the window and parents forgetting about their children are cut as in Disney as this is a play set to appeal largely to children Hook is made less menacing.
The kinship of Barrie’s own life is clear – but the roles involved are not. He has a father, mother and a number of siblings. His mother became a recluse after her son David died in an accident James was raised in part by his sister. Hence in some ways the role of mother and sister (or parent and sibling) are equitable.
The Darling household consists of a family with three children, a mother and father, a dog for a nurse and a maid. The older two children, Wendy and John play regularly at being husband and wife. When they have a child, there is a fight about the sex of the baby. Wendy doesn’t care what it is, but John is happy when it is a boy and not a girl.
Later in the play, Wendy becomes mother to the lost boys (and Peter, sort of). Peter however, doubles as father and imitates Wendy’s own father when “acting that role” He rejects the role of parent preferring that of son
Peter is “captain” of the lost boys (he says so him self). He is looking for a mother for himself and them
Hook is “captain” of the pirates. He thinks it would be good for him and the lost boys to have a mother too.
Hook is in some sense an adult Pan. He is Peter grown up. In some bizarre sense, he also is somewhat asexual in the play. He wants Wendy to tell him stories.
Barrie writes that in a children’s play all the characters are children. If you remove the mask from an adult you find a child underneath. Does that mean you shouldn't attribute too much adult behavior to the pirates, wondering if as adults there interest in Wendy isn't something more?
The etiology of Peter and the lost boys is difficult. If they fell out of their perambulators or (as is the case for Peter) “ran away the day I was born” – how did they all get to be so much older if they don’t age in Neverland? Is Peter wring in his explanation of where they come from (deficient memory) or is growth possible without maturing?
Interestingly enough, in the play when Hook, fighting Peter on the pirate ship says “Pan, who and what are thou” Peter responds “I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m the little bird that has just broken out of the egg”. Barrie’s other writings imply that Barrie “thinks of” children as having been birds before they were born. The line here is changed to “I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m freedom!”
What is the etiology of Hook? Where does he come from? His final “Floreat Etona” implies some connection with a world outside of Never Never Land so how dies he get there?
Similar questions can be asked of the Indians.
Indians and pirates like everything else appear not realistically, but as conceived of by children.
Barrie/’s attitude to children is interesting in that he sees them as rather self centered, thoughtless, with little memory or understanding of the impact of what they do. This seems to imply a kind of approval from him. The children aren’t quite socialized in a sense.
Impact of doubling:
Capt. Hook often played by same person who plays Mr. Darling.
Confusion between sister/mother father/son
There is something you want me to be to you and it isn’t you son
What is it?
It isn’t for a lady to tell
John and Michael seem to have begun to believe that Wendy is their mother (sister=mother which is what happened with Barrie, when his mother died and his sister become his “mother”).