The timeless story of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys of Neverland is coming to NBC this December in a special three-hour musical production featuring Allison Williams in the title role.
It might seem strange to cast a woman in the role of Peter Pan, but this has been a fairly common practice through the history of the musical. In fact, Mary Martin played Peter Pan in NBC’s 1955 live broadcast of the Broadway hit.
The practice of casting an adult woman in the title role of a story about a little boy who doesn’t want to grow up is thought to have originated with Broadway producer Charles Frohman, who was said to have specifically requested his protege Maude Adams for the role in the 1905 Broadway production. Choosing an adult actress was preferable to using a child because of English labor laws that forbid having children under 14 appear on stage after 9 p.m.
There were brief rumors that Miley Cyrus was being considered for the role, but by all accounts Allison Williams appears to be a natural fit for the part of Peter Pan. 26-year-old Allison Williams was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Her father is NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and her mother is Jane Gillan Stoddard, a TV producer. Allison graduated from Yale in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in English, where she was a member of the improv comedy troupe Just Add Water.
After Allison was awarded the part, she shared a photo of herself via Instagram as a three-year-old dressed in a Peter Pan Halloween costume with the caption, “I have wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about 3 years old, so this is a dream come true.”
Currently, Allison stars as Marnie Michaels on HBO’s Girls. On Girls, Allison’s character is sophisticated, mature, and feminine. Allison was willing to cut her hair into a more boyish style to assume the role of Peter Pan, but NBC executives assured her that a wig would be sufficient. Maxim magazine readers who helped Allison earn the #77 spot on the 2014 “Hot 100” list will undoubtedly be pleased by this decision.
Peter Pan is scheduled to air on NBC on December 4, just in time for the holidays. Previously, it was announced that Christopher Walken will be playing the role of Captain Hook, and Christian Borle will be Mr. Smee. Borle also appeared in NBC’s live staging of The Sound of Music, which was a previous project of Peter Pan producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
[Photo courtesy of NBC.]