Whom among us does not love the irrepressible Peter Pan? Not many, I'll bet. Interestingly, the most famous lines of the play were cut during productions of the show during World War I. (The drawings below are copies of original sketches.) For some other intriguing facts, read on:
1. Peter Pan was originally a play. It was later adapted into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy.The first stage version opened at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London on 27 December 1904. The Guardian gave it a great review: “Even those who least relish it must admit that no such play was ever seen before on any stage. It is absolutely original — the product of a unique imagination.” The play proved so popular, it was re-staged every year for the next 10 years.
2. J.M. Barrie was constantly updating the story. The script was rewritten and changed each year. In that spirit, our version of Peter Pan is set in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was a time when the very idea of what it was to be young or old was shifting. By transporting the story to a new era, I hope we can take a fresh look at this familiar tale about growing up or staying young forever.
3. Fairy Dust was added later for health and safety reasons. Originally Peter and the Lost Boys could fly unaided, but after several reports of children injuring themselves attempting to fly from their beds, J.M. Barrie added Fairy Dust as a necessary factor for flying.
4. The original productions pioneered new stage effects. In the original stage productions, Tinker Bell was a dot of light that moved about the stage focused by a mirror. In our production Tinker Bell is a beautiful puppet designed by Sue Dacre, a regular puppet maker at Jim Henson. Sue has also made us some spectacular flying puppets, who soar over the audience.
5. The first Wendy house appeared on stage in 1904. J.M. Barrie needed a house that could be built quickly as these lyrics were sang “I wish I had a darling house, The littlest ever seen, with funny little red walls, and roof of mossy green”.
6. Peter Pan didn’t wear all green. That’s partly a Disney invention. In the original stage productions he was said to wear auburns, tans, browns and cobwebs. To keep with time time-period in our version, Peter Pan wears a leather jacket and has a look not too far away from a young James Dean.
7. Captain Hook went to Eton. In the original play, Hook’s last words are “Floreat Etona”, the Eton motto. In a lecture about the character, J.M. Barrie confirmed his attendance at the school. Captain Hook also knew Long John Silver. Despite being in different novels by different authors, it seems that Hook and Silver crossed paths. J.M. Barrie and Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson were contemporaries and knew each other, hence the cross-over.