The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up is flying back to Broadway as the Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher nears its April 15 opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Adapted from a young adult novel, Starcatcher tells the story of how a young stowaway becomes the magical leader of the Lost Boys. The imaginative play is hardly the first project to put a twist on the classic character of Peter Pan, which first appeared in James M. Barrie's 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Barrie expanded the story into the 1904 play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Over the next centure, the character headlined a classic Disney film, popular Broadway musical, Steven Spielberg blockbuster and more. Now a new stage musical is in the works from Rajiv Joseph, as well as film prequel starring Channing Tatum. Below Broadway.com looks at eight different takes on the timeless tale of Peter Pan.
Peter Pan (1924)
The first major screen adaptation of Peter Pan dates back to the silent cinema era. Barrie himself is said to have selected Betty Bronson to play Peter, keeping with the theatrical tradition that a woman play the part of the young boy. Bronson beat out stars like Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford, who had expressed interest in the role.
Peter Pan (1953)
This animated Disney film featured the popular tune "You Can Fly" and the now wildly un-PC "Why Is the Red Man Red?" On stage Tinkerbell had always been represented by flashing lights, so the film marked the first time the fairy became a visible character, which evolved into one of Disney's most recongizable icons. The studio followed the film with the animated 2002 sequel Return to Neverland, as well as the 2008 straight-to-video spinoff Tinkerbell, which featured Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth as the fairy Rosetta.
Peter Pan (1954)
J.M. Barrie's play first appeared on Broadway at the now-demolished Empire Theatre in 1906, and a musical version followed in 1954. Directed by Jerome Robbins, the show featured music by Mark Charlap and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, with additional material by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Mary Martin earned a Tony Award for playing Peter; Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby received Tony nominations for revivals of the show in 1979 and 1991, respectively. Twenty years later, Rigby continues to tour the country as Peter.
Peter Pan (1976, Hallmark Hall of Fame)
This TV holiday special once again set the Peter Pan story to music, but featured a new score by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Mia Farrow played the title character, with Danny Kaye stirring up trouble as Captain Hook. Though she does not actually appear in the film, Julie Andrews recorded the song "Once Upon a Bedtime" for the opening credits.
Steven Spielberg first began developing a live-action version of Peter Pan for Disney in 1985 (with Michael Jackson in talks to play Peter!). When the project fell apart, Spielberg signed on to direct Hook. The film followed Peter Banning (Robin Williams), a grown-up Peter Pan who left Neverland and married Wendy's granddaughter, but must return to the magical world when Captain Hook kidnaps his children. Hook pulled in over $300 million worldwide and earned five Oscar nominations. All together now...Ru-fi-oooo!
Peter Pan (2003)
Nearly 80 years after Peter Pan first hit the big screen, Universal Studios released a darker, special effects-driven remake budgeted at $100 million. Directed by P.J. Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding) the film is one of the few Peter Pan projects that actually has a young boy (14-year-old Jeremy Sumpter) playing Peter.
Finding Neverland (2004)
This Oscar-nominated drama centers on Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his inspirations for writing Peter Pan. While working on the play Barrie befriended Sylvia Llewylen Davies (Kate Winslet) and her young sons, who greatly influenced the storyline. The movie has been adapted into a musical by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens). After a fall 2011 production at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse was canceled, the show will now make its world premiere in September in Leicester, starring Julian Ovenden as Barrie.
Peter and the Starcatcher isn't the only Peter Pan prequel. Last fall the SyFy network premiered Neverland, a miniseries that imagined Peter Pan as a young London pickpocket working for the devious Jimmy Hook, who is searching for magical treasures that will transport him to another world. The series starred Rhys Ifans as Hook, Anna Friel as fierce pirate Captain Elizabeth Bonny and Bob Hoskins as Smee, the same role he played in Hook.