Last Chance to See “Finding Neverland” on Broadway

Last Chance to See “Finding Neverland” on Broadway

Inspired by the 2004 film of the same name, “Finding Neverland” tells the story of playwright J.M. Barrie and how he came to write “Peter Pan” after befriending Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, a widow, and her four young sons. The relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family is so full of love and loss, letting the audience in on just how personal “Peter Pan” actually is.

The cast of "Finding Neverland" (©Carol Rosegg)


I saw the film version of “Finding Neverland” in theaters and many times on DVD and assumed I knew Barrie’s story inside and out. While watching the musical, I realized just how wrong I was. While both the film and musical take artistic liberties to advance the plot, the stage version does something special that the film could not—connect these characters to each other and to the audience through the power of music and practical magic.

Though death is an ever-present theme throughout “Finding Neverland,” this is actually one of the most uplifting and beautiful musicals I’ve ever seen. Tragedy strikes in all forms—broken relationships, illness and the like—but there is a constant push for believing and that playing is not only fun, but also healing.

One of my favorite sequences in the musical is when Barrie explains that his older brother died when they were children and, to cope, Barrie came up with Neverland. Over the course of one song (“Neverland”), Barrie shares this private place in the night sky with Sylvia and my connection to “Peter Pan” evolved. No longer did I see this classic as a story of a boy who doesn’t want to grow up, but of a boy who didn’t get the opportunity to grow up (Barrie’s brother, David) and those boys who were forced to grow up too fast (Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies brothers). So many lost boys. And yet, there’s still so much hope.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (©Carol Rosegg)


The scene when the company of “Peter Pan” puts on an abridged version of the play for Sylvia and she truly experiences Neverland… I can honestly say I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. The swirl of the glitter. That gorgeous, soaring music of “Neverland (Reprise).” The tears racing down my face faster than the cuffs of my sleeves could catch them. I can’t remember a time where I was that overwhelmingly wrecked and yet completely filled with such joy at the exact same time. This is why I love seeing live theater.

It’s always a privilege watching Tony Yazbeck perform on stage and his Barrie is equal parts comedic and compassionate. For every silly moment he has with the boys, you can see his internal conflict with trying to do more—be more—as a writer, man and father-figure. Yazbeck always moves about the stage with such graceful athleticism and the vulnerability he allows his characters to show is compelling to watch.

As Slyvia Llewelyn Davies, Laura Michelle Kelly’s exquisite vocals and strong stage presence really bring out Sylvia’s fighting spirit and determination to do what’s best for her family.

With a brilliant ensemble, fantastic music from Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, charming choreography from Mia Michaels, as well as great set, sound, lighting and costume design, this production is a great reminder that there is always room in life for make-believe and that playing is necessary.

“Finding Neverland” soared onto Broadway in Spring 2015 and August 21st is your last chance to catch this magical musical in NYC at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (West 46th St.) before it begins its first national tour in the fall.

Tony Yazbeck as J.M. Barrie (©Carol Rosegg)

 

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