5 Reasons why I loved Peter Pan Live on NBC.
Imagine for a second that you start producing Broadway shows. And your first Broadway show is Wicked. The next Broadway show is bound to come up short, no matter how well it does, right?
The ratings are now in for Pan and it pulled in only 9.2 million viewers (!), which is one of the best Thursday nights the network has ever had. But still, the rumors are that the big brass at NBC was upset.
Look, I’ll admit, Peter Pan is not my favorite musical. So I can’t say that I was ‘flying’ over the choice, but there are still so many reasons why I loved the telecast. Here are five:
1. CHILDREN WILL LISTEN
Would I love a live telecast of Falsettos or Assassins or even The Will Rogers Follies? You bet. But that’s selfish. This telecast is not about me. It’s about the mass television viewing audience, and all of us theater snobs in the big cities need to remember that, well, a spoonful of sugar helps the you-know-what go down. Introducing Pan to families and kids will instill viewing habits for the future. 9.2 million saw this sucker. 9.2 million saw singing and dancing and flying. You don’t think some of them will want to see it live? This telecast of Peter Pan is probably one of the greatest audience development tools the theater has seen in the last decade. (Just too bad that we couldn’t get one of these on a Sunday night to get more of the kiddies watching – damn that Sunday Night Football!)
2. BROADWAY STARS BECOME TV STARS
Wasn’t it great seeing Christian Borle up there . . . again? And Kelli and even Taylor (although she left us for the bright lights of H-town pretty-darn-quick)? The more of our folks that are branded on TV, the more that people will want to see them when they are on Broadway. Yep, that sound that you just heard was a few more people buying tickets for The King and I this spring.
3. DANCE, DANCE, REVOLUTION
The Sound of Music isn’t that much of a dance show . . . so we didn’t get a chance to see much. But oh man, did Rob Ashford have those lost boys and those ‘native islanders’ (or whatever they called them – I thought that might have been a little too PC) doing some fantastic stuff. Here’s another thing about me – I’m not the biggest dance guy. But let me tell you . . . America is. In every focus group I’ve been to, the participants always talk about the dancing. Dancing means Broadway to them, and it was great to see the talented Rob Ashford get to showcase his wares.
4. WE DON’T WANT YOU TO JUST WATCH . . .
It was clear from the get-go that NBC didn’t want the viewers just sitting back and watching the show. They wanted them watching their twitter feed as well. They were pushing hard to spread the message of Pan and the telecast wide-wide-wide . . . and it worked. Ok, ok, so maybe the “post a selfie to help save Tinkerbell” was a bit much. But they still get an A for social media effort.
5. IT WAS A PLATFORM TO SELL OTHER STUFF
I once attended a sales seminar that said, “Never present any product without trying to sell another one.” In this case, Peter Pan provided all of the other Broadway “products” (translated = shows) out there to get massive impressions to a new audience. I saw commercials for a bunch of Broadway shows, and, of course, the upcoming movie version of Into the Woods (I loved the trailer – did you?). Because the telecast was live, those 9.2 million had to watch those commercials, which meant major exposure for the current Broadway season. It will help move our needle . . . especially as the holiday tourist season is upon us (Note to self – when I have shows running during the next telecast – buy advertising).
It’s easy to pick apart telecasts like this. Sure the star could have been a little more starry (expect that next year – but the star may not be as good), and sure it could have been a Sondheim show or a dark Kander and Ebb show, but at the end of the day, this telecast was a major win for Broadway.
And I can’t wait to hear what the next one will be.
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