‘Peter Pan' will be NBC's next live musical

Mary Martin as Peter Pan in the nationally televised play in the 1950s. (NBC)

NBC announced its next live musical will be “Peter Pan,” airing Dec. 4, with the cast so far unknown but with award-winning executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron signed to produce.

On the ratings strength of the network’s “The sound of Music Live!” it was clear NBC would continue the live musical theater tradition. But this next selection is especially significant.

The choice of James M. Barrie’s classic musical is laden with nostalgia for Baby boomers and the TV industry itself, notably NBC. The original 1954 Broadway stage production of the musical starred Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Richard as Captain Hook. When the show closed in 1955, NBC mounted a live TV broadcast of the show. It was seen by some 65 million viewers, the largest audience for a single night of programming at the time. It was rebroadcast in 1956. And 1960 — the first broadcast of a musical in color.

Jokes about who should play Peter (anyone but Miley) are in the air, but it’s not clear NBC will stick with tradition and cast a female. Anne Hathaway? Kristen Chenoweth? Kristen Bell?

And the over-the-top, foppish role of Hook could be a riot for all sorts of TV/Broadway pros. Is Nathan Lane available?

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