Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

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lennygoran
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Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:16 am

Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

By Elisabeth Vincentelli

June 26, 2018

As a child, the director Christopher Alden was obsessed with the musical “Peter Pan.” “My twin brother, David, and I begged our parents to let us audition to play the roles of the twins,” Mr. Alden recalled recently. “They wouldn’t let us do it.”

Now, decades later, he gets to direct “Peter Pan.”

Well, the other one.

The show Mr. Alden is staging as part of the Bard SummerScape festival at Bard College, starting on Thursday and running through July 22, is not the Mary Martin blockbuster of his youth but an earlier adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s play with a wonderful, undeservedly obscure score by Leonard Bernstein, whose centenary is being celebrated this year. That production — which starred the unlikely combo of Jean Arthur as Peter and Boris Karloff as Captain Hook — closed in 1951 after a respectable 321 performances, but then essentially disappeared.

The pared-down Bard revival, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., appears to be the first New York presentation in 68 years. It is set in a dreamlike abandoned amusement park and features an eclectic cast led by the musical-theater baritone William Michals as Hook, the writer-performer Erin Markey as Wendy, and the comedian Peter Smith as Peter. Jack Ferver, whose recent piece “Everything Is Imaginable” revolved around its dancers’ childhood idols, is handling the choreography — and playing Tinker Bell.

The project came about when Gideon Lester, the artistic director for theater and dance at Bard, searched for a rarity to celebrate Bernstein’s centennial year and stumbled onto “Peter Pan.”

“I was so surprised because I’d never heard of the show,” Mr. Lester said. He was not the only one: Mr. Lester said that when he approached the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London, which holds the rights to Barrie’s play in perpetuity, the administrators did not seem aware of Bernstein’s version.


It’s hard to blame them, especially since the score’s tortuous path limited its exposure. Wendy’s 11-o’clock number, “Dream With Me” — a lovely song in the vein of “Some Other Time” from “On the Town” — was cut before the Broadway premiere. While “Who Am I?” (eventually covered by Nina Simone), is as close as the show gets to a standard, it’s still under the radar of many Bernstein fans.

According to most sources, Bernstein was originally commissioned to compose only instrumentals, but became so enamored with the play that he volunteered songs, for which he also penned the lyrics. Unfortunately, there was a hitch: Ms. Arthur wasn’t much of a singer. This is probably why only Wendy and Hook have solos.

It did not help that Bernstein was busy conducting abroad throughout rehearsals and previews, so a friend, the composer Marc Blitzstein, acted as his representative. Shortly after the opening in April 1950, Bernstein wrote his sister, Shirley: “I am shocked by the idea of my name in lights on this show!”


To make matters worse for Bernstein’s legacy, new instrumentals by Alec Wilder took over on the recording. “That album has a lot of dialogue, and I think they may have needed music that was just more friendly to function under those spoken words, so they commissioned this other score only for the recording,” said Garth Edwin Sunderland, vice president for creative projects at the Leonard Bernstein Office.

No matter the reason, large segments of the score went unheard until they were restored for the first complete recording in 2005, undertaken by the conductor Alexander Frey, with Linda Eder as Wendy. Some edited materials created for a 1980s production popped up on that album, but a few years later the discovery of the originals in the Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress allowed for the creation (finally) of a performing edition. For Bard, Mr. Sunderland has created a new orchestration for five musicians.

“Although on the surface the music feels very simple, it is impressive how complicated a lot of it is,” Mr. Sunderland said. “Structurally and technically there are a lot of things he is doing that are quite clever, which I think were just for himself.”


“In a way,” he added, “you could make a case that the score was a little bit of a study for ‘Candide.’ That show is entirely pastiche, and you can see the germ for that in ‘Peter Pan,’ particularly in ‘Captain Hook’s Soliloquy.’” (That song was actually written for the post-Broadway tour, which at one point paired the popular baritone Lawrence Tibbett’s Hook with Veronica Lake’s Peter).

The score evokes influences as diverse as Gilbert and Sullivan and Kurt Weill, and is often suffused with an evocative, melodic wistfulness. Bernstein “had such a strong feeling for his family, for needing to have a family and children, even though his life went in so many different directions,” said Mr. Alden, who directed an acclaimed production of Bernstein’s opera “A Quiet Place” for New York City Opera in 2010. “I think the story really moved him on a very personal level. The childlike innocence, the naïveté he brought to this music are somewhat unique in his oeuvre.”

Much of that mood is connected to Wendy, the show’s key character; Mr. Alden has even written out her siblings and made her an only child. (The focus on the father-daughter relationship is also underlined by Mr. Michals play both Hook and Mr. Darling, Wendy’s father.) Meanwhile, the casting of Erin Markey (who prefers Mx. as an honorific) reinforces the idea of a questing Wendy.


“I like the idea of Wendy, the traditional ingénue role, being played by somebody who has more teeth than the kind of person who’s usually asked to play that role,” said Mx. Markey, who took on Lynette Fromme in Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” last summer. And Mr. Ferver brings his own neo-camp sensibility to the choreography; Mx. Markey and Mr. Michals both mentioned “Mommie Dearest” popping up as a reference during rehearsals.

Having actors and a creative team with different backgrounds, perspectives and training is very much in keeping with Bernstein’s own approach.

“I think Bernstein’s music for ‘Peter Pan’ is a great example of what he believed in, that there was no difference between high art and low art,” Mr. Alden said. “This piece very much brings all those together in a rather organic, unpretentious way — natural but with a real feeling for pulling all these different branches of culture together.”


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/arts ... =version_A

John F
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by John F » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:23 am

Yes, and I saw it. That is, my parents took us to see it. I remember that Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff were in it, not at all an "unlikely combo," as Arthur looked the part even if she wasn't a singer; otherwise it's gone.
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:31 am

John F wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:23 am
Boris Karloff
My go-to Frankenstein monster! :lol: Wonder if seeing this would make me think of the music in Candide as the article suggests? Regards, Len

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by John F » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:54 am

You can check it out for yourself, as several numbers (though not the complete original cast LP) are on YouTube. I've just listened to "The Pirate Song" and it's nothing to do with "Candide," it's a steal from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance."
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:55 am

Image

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:51 am

John, jserraglio, thanks to you both-it's too bad all the performances Bard is doing don't match up with the Bard performance of The Demon we'll be seeing in early Aug. Regards, Len

PS- jserraglio, I'm ashamed to admit I don't know your first name which I'd like to use when replying to you if that's okay.

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:28 am

lennygoran wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:51 am
John, jserraglio, thanks to you both-it's too bad all the performances Bard is doing don't match up with the Bard performance of The Demon we'll be seeing in early Aug. Regards, Len

PS- jserraglio, I'm ashamed to admit I don't know your first name which I'd like to use when replying to you if that's okay.
joseph. What follows the j is real, not an amadeus handle. And now, being a big fan of Lenny (pun intended), I wanna to hear this recording which I too was unaware existed.

https://leonardbernstein.com/works/view/46/peter-pan

Program Note
The history of Leonard Bernstein’s songs and incidental music for J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan is a complicated one. His involvement in the 1950 Broadway production, starring Boris Karloff and Jean Arthur, was relatively minimal in comparison to his other Broadway works. Invited to provide only a few dances and incidental cues, he found himself “losing his head” and surprised the producers by writing seven songs as well, including original lyrics. Bernstein was in Europe during the rehearsal period for the show, unable to participate in the creative process as he usually would for a new theatre work. It was Trude Rittman, credited as Musical Coordinator, who took his material and worked it into the production according to its needs, extracting reprises and underscores from Bernstein’s larger numbers and adapting Tink’s musical speech fragments to fit the play dialogue. This Peter Pan is not a musical—Bernstein did not structure a musical/dramatic totality as he did for his other stage works, and was not a direct collaborator in the production. Nevertheless, the score demonstrates a clear use of motivic development, and a consistency of gesture, innocence, and wit that together form a cohesive whole.

Many curious changes were made to the score after it left Bernstein’s hands. The lovely Dream With Me was jettisoned as Wendy’s final song, in favor of an inexplicable reprise of Who Am I. An additional scene was created for the death of Hook (not included in this edition, or for that matter in the play itself) which sutured Plank Round and Neverland together with new lyrics of dubious authorship (they were certainly not written by Bernstein or Barrie), to provide a pat moral to this morally ambiguous story. For the original cast recording, Bernstein’s instrumental numbers, for reasons unknown, were replaced with new cues by Alec Wilder (which has led to the misconception that Bernstein’s incidental music was not used for the Broadway production), and the songs themselves were altered to accommodate spoken narration and new introductions. Many of these recording-specific alterations to the songs were in turn re-incorporated into the orchestral materials for the show. For the national tour, with Lawrence Tibbett as Hook, Bernstein contributed a new song, Captain Hook’s Soliloquy, but the tour was cancelled mid-run, and the song went unheard for decades.

Bernstein’s music for Peter Pan lay fallow for over half a century, largely forgotten save for a very few sporadic, small-scale productions, and overshadowed by the 1954 full-blown musical treatment (with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins, Bernstein’s long-time friends and collaborators). But in 2001, the conductor Alexander Frey came to the Leonard Bernstein Office with the proposal to record the score in its entirety, including Dream With Me and Captain Hook’s Soliloquy, for which new orchestrations were created by Sid Ramin and myself. The recording has been a great success, leading to the first significant theatrical productions in over a generation. However, the only materials available at the time of the recording were a set of parts created by a civic theatre in the 1980s, which were unsuitable for editorial use, and it became clear that to enable the work to thrive, a full orchestral score (all previous editions have been conducted from the piano/vocal) and new parts would need to be created.

The greatest challenge in preparing this new edition was determining what, exactly, Peter Pan should be—to untangle the thicket of changes, cuts, transpositions, and omissions that history had woven around the score, return the specific cues and songs to Bernstein’s original musical intentions, and to present the music in a theatrically viable way that could be usefully employed in a production of Barrie’s play. Fortunately, the original 1950 orchestral parts had at some point been sent to the Bernstein archive at the Library of Congress. This return to the source material afforded many opportunities and surprises—it was finally possible to assess and redress the many modifications that had been made to the individual numbers over the years. All cuts have been restored, and the songs returned to their original keys. At the same time, it became clear that many of the small underscore cues and scene changes in the more recent materials, which are taken from the larger numbers, had been added at some point after the original production, and that other moments of the play required cues for which there was no music specified. Since Bernstein never chose to create a definitive plan for the music’s incorporation into the play, I have integrated the best of these cues into this edition, and inserted additional cues where necessary (for example the Nursery Piano reprise of Who Am I in the final scene.)

This edition therefore reflects the most thorough incorporation of the music into the play, and for the first time presents it in an accurate and comprehensive orchestral full score. I am very grateful to Alexander Frey for his tireless dedication to bringing Bernstein’s music for Peter Pan to light. Credit must also go to Scott Eyerly, who proofed this score through the many stages of its very complicated development. With this edition, the major barrier to productions of Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan has been broken, and this score can now be heard as the piece of theatrical wonder that it is.

--Garth Edwin Sunderland

Image
Boris Karloff as Captain Hook

maestrob
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by maestrob » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:24 am

Fascinating! That record looks like it's from the early 1950's, and the article is very informative. Thanks all for bringing this up. I hope they make a DVD of the production, so I can see it! I remember seeing the production of the "other" Peter Pan on TV as a kid, with Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard. Wish they'd issue that one on DVD, but I guess it was broadcast in the days before videotape. Hope I'm wrong, but I've never heard of a video of that one either.....

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:11 am

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:24 am
Wish they'd issue that one on DVD, but I guess it was broadcast in the days before videotape. Hope I'm wrong, but I've never heard of a video of that one either.....
http://www.vaimusic.com/product/BD8203.html

From VAI, the 1955 and 1956 bcsts together on BD or or separately on regular DVD.

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by maestrob » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:30 am

jserraglio:

You're a wonder! Many thanks! I've looked on amazon for years and had given up hope. I guess I should have checked one more time before I posted above. :oops: :roll: :lol:

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:37 am

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:30 am
jserraglio:

You're a wonder! Many thanks! I've looked on amazon for years and had given up hope. I guess I should have checked one more time before I posted above.
You probably want the 2 b/w originals from the 50s, but here's the color version from 1960. I'm grabbing this before it's deleted. The Goodtimes original DVD of this from 1999 goes for outrageous bucks on eBay if you can even find it and if you are not taken in by the numerous counterfeits out there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFDygj-1ITI


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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:16 pm

I first became aware of it at a local and excellent performance in which "Dream With Me" was sung as the encore to a classical recital. It was performed as in the following, with piano accompaniment and cello obbligato, leading me to wonder if that's Bernstein's original idea for the piece. The soprano introduced it by pointing out that it (and perhaps the entire production) had been somewhat controversial. Wendy is a girl, you see, and she is singing this to Peter, who is a boy, you might remember. To some people it seemed just a touch too mature for pre-adolescent fondness. (I find the number lovely and sophisticated in the tradition of some of the classier songs in the Great American Songbook, including others by Bernstein.)

Incidentally, though I've retired from the activity, trivia item (which I will not frame as a question) of the day. "Wendy" is a name coined by J.M. Barrie. It is not short for Gwendolyn as I once thought. So such women of distinction as Dame Wendy Hiller and Sister Wendy Beckett are named after a little girl in a play called Peter Pan.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by Lance » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:51 pm

Love the cover. I never knew of this LP either. Just wait, though, some enterprising person make copy it to CD and market it. Maybe even Sony!
jserraglio wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:55 am
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:17 pm

Lance wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:51 pm
Just wait, though, some enterprising person make copy it to CD and market it.
Columbia did issue it on CD, catalog # CK 4312 but it is now OOP.

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by Lance » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:14 pm

Well, I'll be dipped! I never saw it that I can think of. Even back then, I probably would not have bought it since Bernstein wasn't conducting. It's only in the past few years that I have taken an interest in "shows." As I always say, one cannot have everything, and I don't want to, especially getting older! Thanks for the info, Joe!

ADDENDUM: I see that Sony has issued "Leonard Bernstein: The Composer," 25 CDs, which includes Peter Pan with the original jacket cover. If you are a Bernstein-the-composer-lover, this has a lot of high marks from what I've read. DGG has other and some like material, but not everything Bernstein composed is in either boxed set and from what I read, even some really important things he composed have been left out.
jserraglio wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:17 pm
Lance wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:51 pm
Just wait, though, some enterprising person make copy it to CD and market it.
Columbia did issue it on CD, catalog # CK 4312 but it is now OOP.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jserraglio » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:20 am

Lance wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:14 pm
I see that Sony has issued "Leonard Bernstein: The Composer," 25 CDs, which includes Peter Pan with the original jacket cover.
All 15 tracks of the 1950 Peter Pan show have been remastered by Sony and have all been posted on YouTube. You can access them all in this playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7sJU0j ... G1WRIXVnWY

The playlist is not in order, but here are the tracks in the order they appeared on the LP/CD:

01 The Darling Family at Home
02 Who Am I?
03 Peter and Wendy in the Nursery
04 The Lost Boys
05 The Pirate Song
06 Captain Hook's Plan
07 Build My House
08 Wendy Plays Mother
09 The Cake
10 Peter Peter
11 Wendy and the Boys Decide to Leave the Never Land
12 The Pirate Ship
13 The Plank
14 The Battle
15 The Children Fly Home

Here is Track 2:


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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by Lance » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:29 pm

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com ... _QL65_.jpg

Well, my Leonard Bernstein - The Composer 25-CD set arrived today. [Sony Classical 34541], and it is quite a package. And at this hour, I listen to Peter Pan. First time I've ever heard this, and actually, it is a stunning transfer, very high fidelity (mono). I'm rather enjoying the performance and like some of the singing. It illustrates a very young Bernstein, but one can sense his compositional abilities. While I am more interested in Bernstein the conductor and/or pianist, this is a remarkable set, all with original jackets. The accompanying booklet, also in color, offers full details regarding the recordings. Bernstein, himself, is not always the conductor of his own work, but at least his works are well represented. I await now only the Leonard Bernstein Vocal Edition. After that, I'm done with collecting anything more with Bernstein. I would only add that it is most interesting to hear the voice of Boris Karloff in this kind of repertoire!
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by John F » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:49 am

Yes, Boris Karloff's singing voice is right for Captain Hook, though I'd expected something even more sinister, like Darrell Fancourt in the D'Oyly Carte recordings.
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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:24 pm

John F wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:49 am
Yes, Boris Karloff's singing voice is right for Captain Hook, though I'd expected something even more sinister, like Darrell Fancourt in the D'Oyly Carte recordings.
Yes, Karloff was excellent in the Disco hit "Monster Mash." ;)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Wait, Leonard Bernstein Wrote a ‘Peter Pan’ Musical?

Post by John F » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:05 pm

Hmm. I'm sure you know this, but for those who don't, "Monster Mash" isn't sung but spoken, and it's not Boris Karloff but Bobby Pickett doing a very good Karloff imitation. According to the Wikipedia article about him, Karloff did sing one more time professionally after "Peter Pan," as a guest on NBC's "The Gisele MacKenzie Show"; the song was "Those Were the Good Old Days" from the Broadway musical "Damn Yankees." That was still in character for him - it's the devil remembering what were his good old days.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P0SplN4DTU
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