Peter Pan Live!, NBC's second live musical theater event, premieres Thursday and the show's actors are already defending it against your future hatred. The only excuse for disliking their production, according to Allison Williams and co., will be the viewer's own cynical and hardened heart.
Via the Daily Beast:
"I will say this about last year['s Sound of Music Live]: today's audiences like to watch things cynically," says [Allison] Williams, who has been rehearsing to play Peter Pan on her off-season break from shooting HBO's Girls, on which she plays grating goody-two-shoes Marnie Michaels. "And I'm on a show that's cynical in tone so I'm no stranger to that."
"Hatewatching is a thing," she continues. "It's a whole way of watching something, and it's not an audience that's natural to a non-cynical performance. Peter Pan, you cannot watch cynically. If you do, you're going to hate it, no question. It falls apart instantly."
Implying that any fault found in Peter Pan Live! will actually be a product of the audience's own inability to feel sincere joy is a pretty ingenious deflective move—or at least it's an ingenious deflective move to those of us who are still clinging to the idea that it's somehow better to view to world through a phony lens of childlike wonder. Personally, I'm fine with being cynical. **writer pushes thumbtack farther into palm, still feels nothing**
Christian Borle, who was in last year's Sound of Music and will play Smee in Peter Pan, was disappointed at the theater community's past reactions to NBC's attempts at musicals, saying, "I don't mind going on record saying that I was mesmerized by the actors in our community who were so snarky about Sound of Music on Twitter. I just thought, 'Don't you ever want to work for NBC? They're reading all of this.' Also, just be nice. I don't understand the impulse to tear down."
These shows are not a school kids performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They're multimillion-dollar productions that star professional actors (who, as Borle points out, are making those sweet NBC bucks) and air on a major television network. We should put the same level of niceness into our critiques as we put into the Oscars or any other high-budget circle jerk. The main reason NBC has an audience for this is because of hate-watchers (and the reason there are hate-watchers is because last year's show was fucking bad), so do not bite the insult-tweeting hand that feeds you.
Lastly, what we're all dying to know: What does Lena Dunham think of all this?
"I called Lena Dunham the night before [the casting] was announced," Williams says. "She said, 'Oh my gosh, it's the coolest thing. It's so subversive. You're going to be in drag.'"
Peter Pan has been played by a woman in drag for over half a century.
By the way, we will be hosting a Peter Pan Live! live thread here at Jezebel dot com and you are welcome whether you are cynical or not.