'Peter Pan Live!': Family-gathering fairy dust?

'Peter Pan Live!' brought families together for the live-action musical. Parents' one complaint? The airtime. 

Virginia Sherwood/AP Photo/NBC/File
From left, Jake Lucas as John Darling, Taylor Louderman as Wendy Darling, Allison Williams as Peter Pan, and John Allyn as Michael Darling are seen in this promotional photo from the musical, "Peter Pan Live!"

With DVRs, Apple TVs, and smartphones, gathering the family to watch a television show as it airs may be more difficult than finding Neverland.

But live-action musicals might just be NBC’s fairy dust.

In 2013, NBC drew 18.6 million viewers to a three-hour, Carrie Underwood-studded “The Sound of Music.” The live event brought a new wave of attention to both the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein book and musical theater, albeit televised.

Though some of these numbers may be from the thousands of viewers who obsess over technical flaws, many others were parents watching the show with their kids — in a way that they say feels special.

"Peter Pan Live!" was NBC's next attempt at the live-action musical, bringing Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, among other stars, to the stage for families across America.

Erin Kotecki Vest, a Los Angeles mother of two, watched with her daughter, age 9 (she notes that her son, 11, was “too cool to join.”). Normally, the kids would rather watch YouTube videos.

“Instead, it was a mother daughter event,” she writes in an email.

In Arlington, Virginia, Lee Armitage watched with her son Iain, 6, who regularly reviews musicals on YouTube, and their black lab.

In a review filmed last night, Iain called the show “over-the-wall fantastic — and I mean awesome.” He was dressed in dark green pajamas that called to mind the outfit of Ms. Williams, who starred as Peter on Thursday night.

Ms. Armitage notes that she knew many people who were excited about the showing. It reminded her of Christmas specials that aired just once a year when she was growing up, she says.

“I thought it was fun that people were watching together,” she says.

In Palmdale, California, Grisel Hernandez watched with her two sons, ages 5 and 3.

Though she says she often sits and watches cartoons with her kids, there aren’t a lot of shows they can all watch together.

“I was very happy that we could enjoy that together, especially because they’re small,” she says. “I saw the movie when I was small, and seeing it live was really nice.” 

To Paul Van Sickle, a musician and the father of two boys, watching TV and movies together isn't out of the ordinary. But "Peter Pan Live!" was special because it was a musical.

"Our 8-year-old was watching and asking technical questions about how they were doing certain camera angles and commenting on set pieces and costumes, as well as singing along," he writes in an email, noting that his wife is a musical theater teacher and singer.

Parents did have one major complaint: the show’s timing. A lengthy production on a school night kept some kids from figuring out if Wendy and the Lost Boys made it home to London — at 11 p.m.

"That's way past most every child's bedtime — which means we will finish watching tonight, thanks to the DVR," Ms. Kotecki Vest writes. 

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