|Finding Neverland – Theatre Review
| by Rachel Flanagan
Most people know the story of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell and their adventures fighting pirates and the treacherous Captain Hook. Just as extraordinary as pixie dust is how J.M. Barrie came to create Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow. Now at the Pantages Theater, Finding Neverland tells Barrie’s incredible true story that is filled with just as much wonder, enchantment and dark deception as the world of Neverland itself.
Finding Neverland is inspired by the 1998 play, The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee and the 2004 movie adaption, starring Johnny Depp. The musical adaption begins with J.M. Barrie ((Billy Harrigan Tighe) struggling to find inspiration for a new play while in Kensington Gardens. While there, Barrie meets the widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Christine Dwyerz) and her sons George, Jack, Peter and Michael. Though their initial meeting didn’t start out on a positive note (with the boys playing around and Sylvia pointing out that Barrie continues to write the same play repeatedly), a close friendship soon blossoms. Barrie finds inspiration as he rekindles his inner child with the Davies’ boys and helps Peter find his imagination after the tragedy of his fathers’ death.
Though Llewelyn Davies and Barrie have a platonic friendship, those closest to question their friendship. Mary Barrie (Crystal Kellogg) is quite happy to be the wife of a successful playwright with no children, but as her husband grows closer to the Llewelyn Davies’, Mary begins an affair that inevitably destroys their marriage. Meanwhile, Barrie’s producer, Charles Frohman (Tom Hewitt) is growing impatient waiting for his next great play, criticizing each draft looking for drama and fear, something a villain would bring to the story. Using a cane to create the shadow of a hook, turning a stuffy dinner party into a musical and casting the light of a magical fairy with a spoon, creates clever foreshadowing to face each problem with a clue to the story of Peter Pan.
Finding Neverland focuses on the fun and whimsy of creating an imaginary land so that the audience is lost in the fairytale and loses sight of the true anguish within the story. From public scandals to financial struggles and even death, an enchanted song and dance number greet every hint of grief as pieces of Neverland emerge from each moment of contention, never allowing true sorrow to sink in. Though some have criticized the production for overusing childlike wonder, the point of a magical land with pirates, mermaids, fairies, and boys who won’t grow up, is so the child lost in all of us can emerge and forget about the realities of every day, if only for a couple of hours. For that, Finding Neverland has a competent cast making the performance a delightful and magical success.
|Posted By Rachel Flanagan on March 16, 2017