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The Peter Pan Chronicles

September 12, 1993|Sue Martin

THE PETER PAN CHRONICLES by Bruce K. Hanson (Birch Lane Press: $21.95, 288 pp). Peter Pan, that universal symbol of the boy-who-wouldn't-grow-up, has more frequent flyer miles than just about any childhood character. In this pleasant and cheery book, Hanson, obviously a great fan without being too gushy, traces Pan's creation as a character in the 1902 J.M. Barrie novel called "The Little White Bird" to a baby who ran away seven days after he was born. From his genesis in "Bird," his chapters were novelized separately into "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" and then, in late 1904, Peter Pan hit the boards at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. He's been flying in the rafters ever since. From the first Pan, Nina Boucicault, through the luminous Maude Adams and Pauline Chase, from the effervescent Mary Martin to the more current incarnations by Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby, Hanson traces the growth of the play, as scenes are lopped off and then added again, dialogues deleted and expanded, music and lyrics added. (It was only in 1982 that a Royal Shakespeare Company production essayed Pan as a man.) No matter what the form: stage production, Disney animated feature or Steven Spielberg's recent film, Peter Pan has resisted aging and Hanson chronicles his ageless growth admirably.

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