Did someone send for Tiger Lily?
Regardless of how you felt about Thursday evening's Peter Pan Live!, there's no question it was quite the undertaking, even for seasoned pros like Christopher Walken and Allison Williams. Which makes the standout performance of Alanna Saunders as Pan's aforementioned ladyfriend all the more impressive. Having just graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in musical theater in May, the 22-year-old actress was about as green as green can be.
Related: NBC's 'Peter Pan Live!' Review
Still, even the haters (who inevitably were going to hate hate hate hate hate the NBC special) took notice of her, praising both her chops and her looks.
Guessing the whole experience had to be something of a whirlwind, we checked in with Saunders while she was still reeling from her epic night.
We all saw how last night went from the viewer's perspective. How'd it go from yours?
It was pretty incredible. It's a weird experience because we rehearsed like… theater, where you open and you have an audience and you get that energy from them. But, last night, of course, it was just like we had always done. We'd get energy from each other, but there was none of that audience energy. It was this weird, kind of, not anticlimactic, but it doesn't feel as climactic as you'd think it would because we're inside a studio and so we don't get to know the millions of viewers.
So did you wish there had been an audience?
Yes and no. That's what makes this experience different than normal Peter Pan productions. It really is a movie shot live and we're in this 360 space, so there's no way for an audience to be there.
This is a huge part with high stakes for your first big role. Was that daunting for you?
Oh, yeah. This whole process has been a little bit of a dream and I really can't believe that a lot of it is real. I just take my cues from those around me that know a little bit more and have been in the business and doing this longer. But, at the same time, this whole concept of performance is a newer concept. The only thing they've done is The Sound of Music last year. So it's not like anyone is really truly an expert on this type of performance and art. We're all freaking out together, so in that way, it was really nice to come into this space where everyone was really open and warm.
Have you looked at any of the reactions to your performance on Twitter? "Tiger Lily" trended for quite a while last night.
I looked a little bit. A lot of it has been positive. I've looked at a few of the not-so-good reviews. … And then I pretty much stopped looking at them because there's nothing that I can do.
Did you see any of the ones comparing you to Beyoncé and J.Lo?
Wow! That's quite the honor. Beyoncé is the woman. … She would [wear that dress] but she'd probably cut it. It's probably a little long for her.
What was the dress made of? It almost looked like strips of colorful electrical tape.
It looks different depending on the environment. It's actually made out of this stretchier fabric that's partly painted with this blue glitter. The dress is green unless the light shines on it and then it has this blue tint to it. It's really intricate in terms of everything is made from pieces — it's not like a fabric that was cut out. … It really was quite amazing to move in. It really got me in the Tiger Lily mindset.
Originally, I didn't know that I was going to be in heels. I don't know if you could tell from the screen. It really makes me that much taller, which was fun because I'm not necessarily a tall person [she's 5-foot-2], but it gave me that presence.
We were relieved to see "Ugg-a-Wugg" reworked. As a descendant of Cherokee Nation yourself, were you at all involved in that process?
They had figured out a good amount of it before we started rehearsals and we continued to workshop different actual Native American phrases. There were a couple different workshops. I would be told what it is and it was a really open process. They wanted to make it as authentic and true to these Native American aspects in the show. … They not only changed the words, but also the rhythms were more authentic and less stereotypical, to make it less offensive and more true to the culture that we're somewhat representing.
When I found out that I was going to be doing this, I thought there was no way that they could do "Ugg-a-Wugg." It's way too offensive to be on national television. So, when I got to the first rehearsal and found out that they were changing it, I was very relieved.
Plus, the True Blood Brothers clearly had the best-looking dancers, right? They had So You Think You Can Dance all-star Alex Wong!
Let's be honest, when I first found out that Alex Wong was in the cast, I was like, "I'm going to be dancing next to Alex Wong?! No. Absolutely not." I've watched him for ages.
First big gig down — what's next for you?
I don't have anything yet. I have a couple of auditions lined up, which is quite exciting, but nothing set in stone, nothing booked yet. I think that the effect of this could happen now. I'm really excited to see what's next.