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Stage plays based on Peter Pan

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Zena Dare as Peter, 1907
Zena Dare as Peter, 1907

Of course first, there was Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, debuting just after Christmas in 1904. But that just opened the floodgates to other productions. As special as the original was, apparently there was room for improvement in one way or another (musical numbers being one of the most popular additions). Even Barrie continued to revise the script over the years.

Although Barrie did not intend the play as a pantomime, it has many features in common with this traditional genre of British children's theatre: a boy – played by a woman – as the lead role (known as the "Principal Boy"), actors in animal costumes, a flamboyant villain, and fantasy themes. (It does not, however, featuring the panto staple of a "Dame": a man dressed as a usually grotesque female character.) Its original presentation during the Christmas/New Year season also fit with the "panto" genre, and beginning the very next season, panto productions based on the play – often featuring popular entertainers, such as TV stars – have been a regular feature of British holiday theatre. In keeping with the genre, they are staged as full professional productions, but may feature largely original storylines, music, slapstick, improvisation, and audience participation, all intended to amuse children and their parents.

  • Peter Pan (1924), music by Jerome Kern, an authorised Broadway adaptation. Included two songs.
  • Peter Pan (1950), music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein, an authorised Broadway adaptation. Intended as a musical, it was eventually staged as a "straight" dramatic version with only five songs. This version starred Jean Arthur as Peter Pan, and Boris Karloff in the dual roles of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.
Mary Martin as Peter
Mary Martin as Peter
Cathy Rigby as Peter
Cathy Rigby as Peter
  • Peter Pan (1954), directed by Jerome Robbins, an authorised musical stage adaptation. Taking the opposite path of the 1950 adaptation, it was originally to have only a few incidental songs, but evolved into a full musical with new songs. This version became widely known as a vehicle for Mary Martin (broadcast on U.S. television). Revivals featured television actress Sandy Duncan and gymnast Cathy Rigby as Peter.
  • Peter Pan (1976), a TV special starring Mia Farrow. It was staged largely in the style of a live theatre production, as a made-for-TV production.
  • Neverland (1977), book, music, and lyrics by Jim Steinman, a futuristic musical stage adaptation. Although it only existed as a brief workshop at the Kennedy Center in 1977, three of the songs would be re-worked for the Meat Loaf album Bat out of Hell, one of the best-selling of all time.
  • Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up – A Fantasy in Five Acts (1993), an adaptation of the stage play by John Caird and Trevor Nunn based on Barrie's various drafts, published by Dramatists Play Service, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and probably by an amateur theatre troupe in your area.
  • Peter Pan (1996), book, music, and lyrics by Philip Glassborow, an authorised musical stage adaptation based on Glassborow's radio musical. The Watermill Theatre in Newbury, Berkshire commissioned a new musical adaptation, following Glassborow's successful BBC radio dramatization. Glassborow was given special access by Great Ormond Street Hospital to Barrie's own (unproduced) script for the 1924 silent film, along with additional dialogue from Barrie's variant texts for American productions, which were incorporated into this production.
  • Peter Pan [Piotruś Pan] (2000), lyrics by Jeremi Przybora, music by Janusz Stokłosa. Polish musical stage adaptation in TM ROMA in Warsaw.
  • Peter Pan (2009), music by Dan Chambers and lyrics by Chambers and Polly Gibson, book by Gibson, an authorised musical stage adaption, first staged by the Sinodun Players at the Corn Exchange, Wallingford in July 2009.
  • Wendy (2009), book by Kate Shearer, music & lyrics by John Shortis, a musical stage adaptation focusing on Wendy Darling as a modern girl who is growing up, produced by the Jigsaw Theatre Company of Canberra, Australia. Geared toward an audience of 8-12-year-olds.
  • Peter Pan (2010), stage adaptation by David Greig, first staged by the National Theatre of Scotland at the King's Theatre, Glasgow in April 2010[1]


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