There has been a great deal of chatter about this show, due, in large part, to last year's live musical theater televised broadcast of The Sound of Music -- which was an epic production, and by 'epic' I mean really, really bad. This particular production of The Sound of Music relied heavily on celebrity name recognition, and as the viewing audience learned within the first thirty seconds of the show, being a highly successful country pop singer in no way means you can adapt to Broadway singing, much less act. And believe me, there was much, much MUCH less acting. Despite the problems, though, there were still bright spots by several performers. Unfortunately, those high points only seemed to make the low points even lower. In a nutshell, it was a train wreck. A much talked about, ridiculed, snickered-over train wreck.
Once the cast of Peter Pan was announced, the talk ramped up, and as the time drew closer to tonight's show, the inevitable comparisons started to fly. Allison Williams, the Peter in Peter Pan, made a point of asking that people not "hate watch" the show. "People are cynical, and that's a much more fun way to watch television," she said, but added that if viewers were approaching the show from an assumption of hate, the show would be destined for failure. "Peter Pan lives and breathes by people believing in fairies. I mean, that's a literal moment."
I can understand the concern, but I don't buy the argument. Watching with critical eyes means just that -- comparing the production and performers to a standard of excellence. There is a big difference between anticipating a poor performance and hoping for a poor performance. The last time an audience was actively hoping for something awful was the summer broadcast of "Sharknado 2." And bless the rubber shark industry and a plethora of chainsaws, the awful was fabulous and we loved it and hugged it and squeezed it and called it George. We're great cynics. Just ask Mystery Science Theater 3000.
I hope tonight's production is good, or at least adequate. But whatever it is, the only right thing to do is to judge it -- for better or for worse -- against all its brothers and sisters. It can have it's own spin and creative liberties with characters, but if it's a musical, people better be able to sing AND dance AND act. If it can't live up to its hype, Peter Pan deserves to get the hook.