NBC unveils next live musical, “Peter Pan”

By: Alex Spindler ~Staff Writer~

NBC will fly high for the 2014 holiday season with yet another live musical production, “Peter Pan.”

After last Christmas’ “The Sound of Music Live!” broadcast with Carrie Underwood playing Maria, executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have set their sights on another opportunity to bring the magic of Broadway theater to television audiences everywhere.

Zadan and Meron are responsible for the production of other cinematic-like musical adaptations “Hairspray” and “Chicago” as well as the short-lived TV series, “Smash.”

Last year’s “The Sound of Music” drew in a whopping 18 million viewers at Christmas and maintained the number one spot in the Nielsen ratings for almost three hours straight – a feat not seen by the station since the conclusion of popular series like “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “Will & Grace.”

Despite the mixed critical response to “The Sound of Music” (primarily directed at Underwood’s wooden acting and the overall campy approach), this adaptation of a classic Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical into a large-scale, unedited production struck a chord with the American people.

This may come as a surprise to many entertainment experts who would place Broadway theater at the bottom of the list of people’s popular interests.

In fact, not since the late 1960’s has the United States shown any pervasive interest in the theater at all.

This is something that the Zadan/Meron producing team is trying to change.

“Following up the enormous success that we had this past December, we want to make live theater an annual event for NBC,” Meron said in an interview with The New York Times.

It seems as if they have made the logical choice to continue the trend.

The musical’s family-friendly tone combined with classical ditties and a treasured storybook character should wrangle in even more viewers, and hopefully, stronger critical praise.

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Mary Martin in NBC’s 1960 televised “Peter Pan.”

The favoritism of “Peter Pan” over other well-known musicals is more than just a financial security. NBC previously premiered a live broadcast of “Peter Pan” back in 1960 with Broadway superstar, Mary Martin, in the title role.

It appears as if NBC already has a general know-how of the piece and how to revive it effectively.

Although production and casting information is still up in the air, NBC will definitely make strides with another TV musical.

Not only will the production manifest greater interest for the musical theater genre, but it will most likely drive audiences away from other channels so to lock their DVR’s on NBC come next Christmas.