"Peter Pan" was my first Broadway musical, and is one of my favorite musicals besides "The Phantom of the Opera," "Annie," and "Oliver!" When I was six my family and I went to BlockBuster and got the VHS tape of "Peter Pan" my mom had asked me "Do you know a woman named Mary Martin played Peter Pan?" I had seen the Disney version, so a woman playing Peter was special. I liked Peter because he didn't grow up, and he could fly. I watched the Mary Martin version with my family. My Brother, Sister, Mom, Dad, and me. I LOVED it more than the Disney version. Though we lived out in rural New Mexico I saw it as often as I could, my Mom would make the special trip to get the VHS tape all the way from town.
My siblings loved it too: we played this version of Peter Pan my sister made waves and costumes for all of us to wear. We built the house for Wendy with this toy building set we had and sung the song (I was Wendy though my favorite character was Peter) “Tender Shepherd” was sung after “Rock-a-Bye baby” at bedtime (it worked well because there are three of us and three Darling children.) Of course, my favorite part was the part where you would clap to save Tinkerbell. and it was always magical to see Tinkerbell come back to life. Being as young as I was I assumed Mary could see me through the camera and I would make eye contact with her and form an emotional bond with the woman whose name was read to me every time before the movie started. I couldn’t read then. Of course “Oh my Mysterious Lady” made me laugh my head off. The rescue of Peter by Tiger Lily and the Indians on scooters was also funny, the look on Cyril Ritchard's face is priceless.
Then of course came "Ugg-A-Wug" I had been born with Cerebral Palsy and thus had to go to speech therapy so I assumed I was misunderstanding the characters and tried to understand them. The limits of my six-year-old vocabulary meant that all of the words meant "help" except "Ugg-Ugg-Wah" which meant "I Promise" Jerome Robbins choreography is the reason I can get the meaning of the words
I went to speech therapy as a kid with Cerebral Palsy, and the I Gotta Crow (Reprise) I think that resembles that because I had trouble with the “R” sound! Mary Martin was a #WomanRoleModel as Peter Pan for me at six years old! This is really the only thing I remember seeing that was positive and affirming of my disabled identity.
Then my seventh birthday came, and I got my own Mary Martin Peter Pan VHS tape by that time the Cathy Rigby version had come out and my Mom heard about it got for me for Christmas. I watched it with almost the entire side of my Dad’s family who was there for Christmas. My sister reminded me of Cathy Rigby, with my CP, my sister seemed like she could do anything. and I watched both versions on a TV that was above my head. I would look up at women doing what I wanted to do, go to Neverland! To me a small child they were larger than life and in a way still are. I also felt that I was in love with Mary Martin though st six years old with only exposure to straight romances in children's media coming out was impossible without the language. I also connected strongly with the fact Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby both played a boy. To me it was I can be a boy and a girl at the same time.
Then my mom decided that we should perform "I Won't Grow Up" in the school talent show because she thought it was cute and funny. This led to my VHS being taped over because it was always in the VHS player. I cried, of course. My Mom bought me the DVD, which I still have to this day. The VHS getting recorded over turned out to be a good thing. After all, all our VHS tapes got given away because we moved to Alabama.