'Peter Pan Live!' Vs. The Disney Movie: NBC Has Mermaids, Pirates, & Wendy Birds But Don't Expect It To Match The Cartoon

Thursday night, with hope, thousands of children will gather around their television screens to watch Peter Pan Live! on NBC. For many of them, this will be their first Peter Pan. But those of us who grew up with the animated film will probably be wondering how NBC's Peter Pan Live! musical compares to Disney's Peter Pan.

While both are adaptations of J. M. Barrie's play and accompanying Peter Pan novels and were released only one year apart in the 1950s, there are plenty of differences. Don't even think about getting a glimpse of Rufio, either. This is classic Pan. It's the same basic story that we grew up with. Peter brings Wendy and her brothers to Neverland and gets in trouble with Captain Hook and his band of pirates. They are sassed by mermaids and aided by Native Americans. We'll hear the backstory about the crocodile who ate Captain Hook's hand after Peter sliced it off and was subsequently fed a ticking clock so that Hook will know when he's coming, like something out of Edgar Allen Poe. You'll still see Nana, the Darling family's pet dog and caretaker. (Talk about free canine labor.) The characters Tiger Lily, Smee, Captain Hook, and John Darling's Top Hat all appear. You still follow the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning to get to Neverland. However, here are a few things that the separate tonight's live musical from the Disney classic we (never) grew up with.

Peter is Played by a Woman

I'm going to start with the obvious. The character in the 1953 animated film is voiced by Bobby Driscoll, while traditionally a young woman plays Peter on the stage.

Different Songs

While the Lost Boys may play Follow The Leader, they won't be singing about it. Nor will we be hearing the beyond questionable, downright offensive "What Makes the Red Man Red?" I know "Never Smile At A Crocodile" is a catchy tune, but you aren't going to hear it on NBC this Thursday. The two adaptations have completely different songs by completely different sets of composers.

Audience Interaction

Spoiler: In the stage show, Tinker Bell dies. That's right; it gets real dark. Peter Pan then turns to the audience, breaks the fourth wall, and asks for children to help him revive his friend by applauding.

The Lost Boys Have Names

Remember Tootles in Hook , who lost his marbles? You'll see a much younger Tootles Thursday in Peter Pan Live on NBC. The Disney movie never named the members of Peter's gang but this version gives them names and a little backstory as well.

Dancing Captain Hook

In the musical, Hook is a triple threat. He sings, he fences, and he dances. He even thinks to different tempos such as a tango and a tarantella, which I have always found delightfully nerdy and fun. Christopher Walken took this one step further and requested to tap dance when he played the role. The NBC production team happily obliged, and tonight we'll see the most dance-heavy Captain Hook to date.

No Flying Ship

Who can forget the enchanted pirate ship that flew Wendy and her brothers back to London? The end plays out a little differently in the stage musical. For one thing, the Darlings aren't the only ones who fly home, but I won't give anything else away. You'll have to watch to find out.

Images: Virginia Sherwood/NBC, Giphy (6)