Broadway Meets Television

peterpanliveThe success of musically-driven shows like FOX’s Glee and ABC’s Nashville has been good news for musical theatre lovers everywhere; and now networks are embracing even more ambitious Broadway-style spectacles. NBC, spurred on by terrific ratings for last year’s “Sound of Music Live!,” has made a huge bet on a special effects-heavy production of “Peter Pan,” which will air live tonight at 8pm Eastern.

From the New York Times:

“The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood was the first time in decades that a network staged a musical for live broadcast, was “a great experiment,” Mr. Meron said, but the fantastical “Peter Pan Live!” aims to marry Broadway spectacle with TV wizardry more ambitiously.

Unlike “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan” will include big dance numbers shot on 360-degree sets, using Steadicams and cranes. In addition to the rebellious shadow, other complicating factors include a live, computer-generated Tinker Bell; moving sets; a contraption-heavy pirate ship; and a talented mutt named Bowdie who plays Nana the dog. (An understudy, Lexie, stands ready.)

All told, “Peter Pan” includes roughly 10 times as many technical components as “The Sound of Music,” estimated Derek McLane, the production designer. Prime among them are the elaborate rigs and harnesses that will fly the actors around the studio — always a fraught proposition after “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

“It’s anxious-making in that it’s a lot for all of us to get right,” he said.

NBC has secured the rights to “The Music Man” for next season’s holiday spectacular, but they won’t make any formal plans until they see how tonight’s spectacle comes off.