Adaptations

With the slapstick comedy Peter Pan Goes Wrong arriving on Broadway in spring 2023, let's explore the various adaptations that have transported audiences to Neverland.

J.M. Barrie's Original Play

Peter Pan, the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up, first took to the stage 119 years ago. Its timeless appeal has captivated audiences and inspired numerous adaptations. The latest is Peter Pan Goes Wrong, a comedy about a theatre troupe's chaotic attempt to stage the classic tale, premiering on Broadway in March, a decade after its London debut.

Key Adaptations

1904: The Original in London

J.M. Barrie’s play premiered in December 1904 at Duke of York’s Theatre with Nina Boucicault as Peter Pan. Due to child actor regulations, a 37-year-old actress played the role, establishing a tradition of women playing Peter Pan.

1905: Broadway Debut

The play arrived on Broadway at the Empire Theatre, with Maude Adams as Peter. Adams reprised her role in subsequent productions in 1912 and 1915. Later, Marilyn Miller and Eva Le Gallienne also starred as Peter Pan on Broadway.

1950: First Broadway Musical

This adaptation featured music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein. Though it vanished after its initial run, it was revived in 2018 at Bard College in honor of Bernstein's centenary.

1954: Iconic Broadway Musical

Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard earned Tony Awards for their roles in the Jerome Robbins-directed musical. NBC's televised versions in 1955, 1956, and 1960 popularized songs like “I Gotta Crow” and “I’m Flying.” The show saw revivals with Sandy Duncan in 1979 and Cathy Rigby in the 1990s, and a live telecast in 2014 starred Allison Williams and Christopher Walken.

1982 and 2016: Nontraditional Productions in London

In 1982, the Royal Shakespeare Company cast Miles Anderson as the first adult male Peter Pan. In 2016, London's National Theatre featured Anna Francolini in dual roles as Mrs. Darling and Captain Hook, aligning with Barrie’s intent that Peter Pan’s enemy be a maternal figure.

2011: Peter and the Starcatcher

Rick Elice’s play, based on the novel Peter and the Starcatchers, delves into Peter Pan’s origins. It premiered off-Broadway in 2011 and moved to Broadway in 2012, winning five Tony Awards.

2013: Peter Pan Goes Wrong

This comedy by Mischief Theatre portrays a bumbling troupe’s attempt to stage Peter Pan. After its London debut in 2013, it has now arrived on Broadway.

2015: Finding Neverland

Based on Allan Knee’s play and the 2004 film, this musical chronicles J.M. Barrie's relationship with the Llewellyn Davies family. It premiered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2014, and starred Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer in the 2015 Broadway production.

Additional Adaptations

Other notable adaptations include Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday and Lauren Gunderson’s Peter Pan and Wendy, both of which explore different facets of Barrie’s beloved story.

Conclusion

From its original staging to modern reimaginings, Peter Pan continues to inspire new interpretations, each bringing fresh perspectives to the enduring tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.