PETER PAN GOES WRONG
So as to not bury the lede, I loved this show!
Peter Pan Gone Wrong is exactly what all of us need right now—an evening of unbridled laughter at nonsense.
When I accepted the invitation for Peter Pan Gone Wrong at the Ahmanson, all I knew was that I saw my two favorite words on it—Peter Pan. (No, my two faves are not me and I!) So I was already happy to see it.
My only pre-show hope was that they wouldn’t ruin my precious Peter Pan, (as NBC did in 2014, the only time I’ve ever seen Peter Pan really go wrong!) And, very thankfully, they did not.
I doubt that there’s anybody on earth, or in heaven, (outside of Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby,) who is more familiar with Peter Pan than I am! Several of my old pals even call me by that name! (And let’s not forget my Peter Pan birthday cake debacle; it’s too long to recount here for you, but if you’re ever in need of some more nuttiness, here’s the link to that crazy tale: itsnotaboutme.tv/news/holiday-happy-birthday-to-me-2013.)
So I don’t like to see the classic story of Peter Pan messed with. But I knew what I was getting into with this play because I had seen this company’s first (and similar) presentation, The Play That Goes Wrong, just four years ago, and at the same venue, to boot!
And I wound-up appreciating this one even more than the earlier one because of that knowledge. I suspect sitting much closer than I did last time had something to do with it, too, and perhaps being prepared for the mayhem did, as well. I laughed almost non-stop throughout it.
Peter Pan Gone Wrong is an expertly-crafted screwball comedy, written and produced by Mischief Theatre Ltd. from the UK. The show is technically about a group of performers from the “Cornley Drama Society” staging Peter Pan. And, of course, it all goes wrong. (Duh.) In the most uproarious, slapsticky, farcical, ludicrous, and disastrous ways. I have never been a fan of physical comedy, (I can’t even bear to watch the Three Stooges,) but I promise you, this show is hilarious!!!
Some of the people in the opening night audience were downright guffawing. I thought the two men behind me were going to have heart attacks. Seriously. (So perhaps you should still wear a mask, as I do, with so many people’s liquids spewing all over the place.)
Peter Pan Gone Wrong is downright brilliant! The writers (who are also in the show)–Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, (who is a doppelgänger of another hilarious Brit whom I adore, Troy Hawke, so I was already amused just looking at him,) have thought of absolutely everything!
And the timing of every performer is perfect. What a supreme group effort. I love that for the curtain call, the entire technical crew comes onstage, to thunderous applause, I might add. I’ve never seen that before. (Unless they also did it in their previous offering, and I was too busy cheering to notice.) What fun it must be to be an actor in this company, knowing that the others always have your back, and that you’re bringing such happy entertainment to your audiences.
Another positive is that I can’t picture this show offending anybody, as so many seem to do in these crazy times.
When you see Peter Pan Gone Wrong, (which I highly recommend that you do,) do not look away from the stage for even one second, or I guarantee you will miss something that everyone else will be laughing at.
And get there early enough to enjoy the pre-show shenanigans in the audience, especially if your seats are in the orchestra.
I loved seeing the show with such an enthusiastic audience, but I have a feeling that it doesn’t have to be opening night for everyone who sees it on any day or night to feel the same way.
I’m so thrilled that this one doesn’t have the traditional ending—which is that Wendy grows-up, so she has to now let her daughter go with Peter, (which may be why I never wanted children,)—because I hate sobbing my guts out in front of people. And when I even think of the real ending, (like right now as I write this!,) I turn into a blubbering mess. And the ending isn’t the point of this one—it’s more about the journey than even the real Peter Pan story is!
For those of you who care about such things, the “Narrator” is played by two different guest actors from early 2000s hit shows. First up is Bradley Whitford from The West Wing (appearing through August 27th,) and then Daniel Dae Kim from Lost takes over until the end of the run. I’ve not seen any of Bradley’s work before, (though most of the audience obviously had,) so my druthers would be to see Daniel, of whom I became a fan during Lost and The Good Doctor, (which he has acted on occasionally, while also producing; in case you’re not aware of this, he’s the one who brought that show’s concept to America! But I cannot picture him doing comedy, especially of the physical variety, so that will be very interesting to see.) Peter Pan Goes Wrong is perfect as is, with its unknown-to-us cast, so I don’t feel it needs this gimmick, but I believe they did it on Broadway, as well, with Neil Patrick Harris doing a few weeks in the role. Perhaps the Brits think we Yanks need an incentive to see this show, but we really do not; it totally stands on its own.
The enjoyment at the Ahmanson flows all the way to the programs. While not quite in the “Dame Edna bio” in this category, I love when programs feature silly writings by the characters in the show. In this case, it’s several pages, including an entire one about the “Cornley Youth Theatre” who is “producing this production” of Peter Pan. Clever little above-and-beyond touches such as those just add to the overall mirth of the experience.
By the way, you don’t have to be familiar with the tale of Peter Pan to understand all the action and mishaps in this show. (On the way out, a woman asked me if Tinkerbell was in the original play!!! OMG! I had to force myself to not engage for fear of having my own sword fight right there in the lobby!)
So now all my friends who know what a purist I am about my favorite story can stop holding their breath, worrying about what my reaction to this show would be. I absolutely loved it! So much so that I may go again. But only if I didn’t use up all my green attire, jewelry, and nail polish for opening night!
Peter Pan Goes Wrong running through September 10, 2023
Ahmanson Theatre 135 N. Grand Avenue