“Finding Neverland”–a touring company review   Leave a comment

Walking into the Broward Center for the Performing Arts I really didn’t have much knowledge of “Finding Neverland”. I had listened to a few of the songs, written by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kennedy, on Pandora and knew that it was based on a motion picture starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet which in turn was based on a play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” by Allan Knee called “The Man Who Was Peter Pan”.

Playwright J. M. Barrie was that man and “Finding Neverland” is the story of how he met Widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her 4 boys in a park one afternoon, befriended the family and, through Peter who grew up too quickly upon his father’s death, found the child in himself and the boy. He remembered Neverland, an imaginary place he had created in his mind when he was a child and taking the other three boys playfulness recreated that world not only for Peter but for the now adult Barrie.

In the first act we meet Barrie (Will Ray), the theatre producer Charles Frohman (Rory Donovan) his actors (the ensemble), the Widow (Christine Dwyer), the 4 boys George (Finn Faulconer), Peter (Ben Krieger), Jack (Mitchell Wray), Barrie’s wife Mary (Lael Van Keuren), Sylvia’s mother Mrs. Du Maurier all having strong voices and excellent stage presence. The 4 boys are especially fine being boys who just happen to be singers and dancers as naturally as they are pirates and whatever else their imaginations bring to their every day play. Near the end of act 1 there is a 4 part song, “Circus Of Your Mind”, that gives the adult leads to soar above the  orchestra conducted by Ryan Cantwell while before that the 4 boys are highlighted singing “We Own The Night”.

Act 2 basically leads up to the Peter Pan story so many of us know. I must admit I was transported back to 1954 when Mary Martin as Peter Pan asked the audience to clap if you believe in fairies when Peter Pan (Dee Tomasetta) asked us the same last night. It is also in the second act that we get to have fun with Captain Hook (Rory Donovan and Connor McRory), Wendy Adrianne Chu and let’s not forget the real dog Porthos, played by Sammy, who deserves a bow of his own.

The company of “Finding Neverland” have a first rate production staff starting with the director Diane Paulus, the ever changing set and lighting designs by Scott Pask doing the former and Kenneth Posner the latter but there is a piece of stage magic done by ‘air sculptor’ Daniel Wurtzel that just dazzles the audience.

“Finding Neverland” has some dark moments but we are distracted by the music and theatre magic that takes place on a stage.

Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission. It is the last show of the 2016-2017 season with the 2017-2018 season staring in October.

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