'Peter Pan Live' song switch praised by head of Native American museum

'Peter Pan Live' song switch praised by head of Native American museum
Starring in "Peter Pan Live" are, from left, Jake Lucas, Taylor Louderman, Allison Williams and John Allyn. (Virginia Sherwood / NBC)

When "Peter Pan Live" airs on NBC on Thursday, there will be a few changes, including several new songs with lyrics by Amanda Green, whose father Adolph helped write some of the original songs. Some "Peter Pan" purists may scoff, but one of those changes is drawing praise from an unexpected direction.

Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, has released a statement praising the show's producers for replacing the song "Ugg-a-Wugg," sung by the Native American character Tiger Lily, played by Alanna Saunders, with the more culturally sensitive song, "True Blood Brothers."



Dec. 4, 10:05 a.m.: An earlier version of the photo caption above misidentified cast member John Allyn as Michael Darling, the name of the character he plays.


In his statement, Gover said, "Tiger Lily was an imaginary Indian -- she was created decades ago for a storybook. Although a character, and a beloved one at that, she didn't (and her song didn't) represent the American Indians of the past nor today. This new interpretation of Tiger Lily is closer to our heritage, our culture and portrays a deeper sensitivity and helps diminish the many stereotypes surrounding Native Americans."

The live broadcast, which stars Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as her piratical nemesis Captain Hook, will feature three other new songs with lyrics by Green. They include "Vengeance," "Only Pretend" and "A Wonderful World Without Peter." There is a fourth song, "When I Went Home," which is being brought back from the touring production of "Pan."

While removing "Ugg-a-Wugg," which featured Peter singing such lyrics as "Beat on a drum / and I will come / and I will come and save the brave noble redskin," is appreciated by many, it's not unanimous praise.
Actress Sondra Lee, who played Tiger Lily on Broadway in 1954 and the first live TV broadcast of the musical in 1955 told the New York Post the removal of the song was a mistake.
"The song is about word games, and kids play word games all the time," she said. "If you have a classic, don't mess with it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

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