Looks like NBC has found their Peter Pan: ComingSoon reports that Allison Williams has been cast in the network’s upcoming television event “Peter Pan LIVE!”
Known to the world as Marnie Michaels on the HBO series “Girls” – or as the daughter of “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams – Allison will be able to showcase her vocal chops while donning the tights of the boy who wouldn’t grow up, and she’s thrilled at the chance to do so.
I have wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about three years old, so this is a dream come true. It’s such an honor to be a part of this adventure, and I’m very excited to get to work with this extraordinarily talented team. And besides, what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?
NBC’s Chairman of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt said, “We couldn’t be happier that Allison Williams is our Peter Pan. She’s a lovely rising star on the award-winning show ‘Girls’ — where she occasionally shows off her incredible vocal talent — and we think she will bring the perfect blend of ‘boyish’ vulnerability and bravado to save the day against Christopher Walken’s powerful Captain Hook.”
“Peter Pan LIVE!” exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the team who brought you the 2013 live telecast of “The Sound Of Music”) agree wholeheartedly, saying, “Allison Williams is a major find. She will reinvent the iconic role of Peter Pan with her wit, her warmth, her dynamic flying and her wonderful musical abilities. The score will be sung beautifully and introduced to a whole new generation of families.”
(Now that the gushing from the suits is over, let’s break this down juuuuust a little.)
While I applaud NBC’s move in honoring the tradition of casting a female in the titular role due to the amount of athleticism involved coupled with a score that most male singers can’t hit without straining, I’m not completely sold on Allison Williams just yet. Standing at 5’6, she fits the height bill of the other women who’ve played Pan before her including Mary Martin (above, who originated the role), Sandy Duncan, and U.S. Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby, BUT…I’m not a fan of her voice because I put her in the Lea Michele (“Glee”) camp of pretty girls who sing through their nose yet are told all their lives how “talented” they are.
Williams may have been “classically trained” at Yale and has the range to play Peter Pan buuuuuut I’m reminded of “Girls” season 2 episode 9 when she covers the Kanye West’s single “Stronger.” The very scene itself was cringeworthy but her vocals turn the cringe up to 11.
*shudder* Just awful.
THEN I found this clip from 2010 where she performs a mash-up of the “Mad Men” theme (A Beautiful Mine by RJD2) and Nature Boy by Eden Ahbez (made famous by Nat King Cole) in one continuous take. Here you can hear Williams showing off a little more of her range and less of the nasal tonality, but as you can see, she sings like she’s at a recital.
Having spent most of college singing in jazz choirs and beyond, I know what “recital singing” looks like. I’m not saying she has to jump off the rafters in order to keep me interested, but the musicians looked like they were having a better time than she was. Williams looks nervous and afraid to open up her body like she’s afraid of messing up the take…if she looks like this in this video, how the hell is she gonna look on December 4th?
Since this isn’t the first time Peter Pan’s been telecast on NBC (once in 1955 with Mary Martin in the lead, and again in 2000 with Cathy Rigby), and considering the fact that at 61, Rigby is STILL playing Peter Pan – the only actress to do so for more than 30 years – Miss Williams has some HUGE shoes to fill.
Guess we’ll find out when “Peter Pan LIVE!” hits NBC on December 4th.
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