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"Finding Neverland", a New Musical, Stars Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammar at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
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"Finding Neverland", a New Musical, Stars Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammar at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Weinstein Live Entertainment
The Madison Square Garden Company
et al.
Present:

Finding Neverland
(Finding Neverland Website)

Book by James Graham
Music & Lyrics by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kennedy
Based on the Miramax motion picture written by David Magee
Based on the play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” by Allan Knee

Starring:
Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammar

With: Laura Michelle Kelly, Carolee Carmello, Teal Wicks
Aidan Gemme, Christopher Paul Richards
Sawyer Nunes, Alex Dreier
and an Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Produced by Harvey Weinstein
Directed by Dianne Paulus
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Music Supervision & Arrangements by David Chase
Orchestrations by Simon Hale

At the
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
205 West 46th Street
NY, NY
877.250.2929

Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Jonathan Deans
Projection Design: Jon Driscoll
Illusions: Paul Kieve
Air Sculptor: Daniel Wurtzel
Flying Effects:
ZFX, Inc. & Production Resource Group
Music Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Vocal Designer: AnnMarie Milazzo
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Casting: Telsey + Company
Patrick Goodwin, CSA
Hair & Makeup Design: Richard Mawbey
Production Management: Juniper Street Productions, Inc.
Production Stage Manager: C. Randall White
Executive Producers: Barry & Fran Weissler
Alicia Parker, Victoria Parker
Press: Billy Zavelson
Company Manager: Daniel Hoyos
Advertising: SpotCo
General Manager: BJ Holt

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 22, 2015


After all the news about the challenges of mounting and opening this musical stage production of Finding Neverland, based on the Miramax motion picture of the same title and theme, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I and most in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show. At the standing ovation, I thought people would shout for an encore. Harvey Weinstein made some news in the various cast and production team changes in the lead-up to this week’s opening, but, judging from tonight’s audience accolades, this show should enjoy a long run. And, yes, it’s fine for children. There’s a pre-curtain arrival of Tinkerbell’s bouncing light, there’s a cast of four endearing, young boys, there are magical fog and flying effects, and there’s even glittering, gold confetti. The strongest adult theme involves a husband’s (J.M. Barrie) and wife’s (Mary Barrie) wandering hearts. The “other” woman, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, is a sickly widow with four boys, and the “other” man woos Mrs. Barrie with fine trappings. At most, we finally see a kiss.

James Barrie (Matthew Morrison), author of the 1904 play Peter Pan, married to Mary Barrie (Teal Wicks), lives a life steeped in society’s top literary and political circles, as he writes his books and plays. The troupe’s producer, who counts on Barrie’s engaging works, is Charles Frohman (Kelsey Grammar). Just as Mr. Barrie hits a creative snag, he’s serendipitously inspired in the park, by a playful quartet of frolicking boys, Peter (Aidan Gemme), Jack (Christopher Paul Richards), George (Sawyer Nunes), and Michael (Alex Dreier) Llewelyn Davies. They begin to adore him, and the feeling is mutual, not in an inappropriate sense. The boys’ mother, Sylvia (Laura Michelle Kelly), is demonstrably drawn to James, even as her severe cough worsens. In the course of time, James adapts, for his new play, many of the boys’ playground characters, creating a swashbuckling, hook-handed pirate, a treacherous alligator, who swallowed a ticking clock, a girl named Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael, a troupe of lost boys, their leader, Peter Pan, who can fly and remain forever young, a fairy-light called Tinkerbell, who needs clapping to stay alive, an Indian princess named Tiger Lily, and a big fluffy, nanny dog. Mr. Barrie’s new hit play, Peter Pan, is privately performed by a second troupe for the ailing Sylvia, and it’s enchanting.

Mr. Grammar is ebullient and possessed when he shifts from producer to pirate, as Captain Hook is born in some wild, comical scenes with ropes and a sailing ship. “Live by the Hook” and “Stronger” were Mr. Grammar’s tour de force Act I closing, pirate numbers. Mr. Morrison performs with poignancy and presence, with his “Neverland”, sung with Ms. Kelly, and “When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground”, sung with Aidan Gemme (Peter Davies, for whom Peter Pan was named). Ms. Kelly sings with soulfulness and clarity, in a breakout performance. Ms. Wicks exudes the coldness and distance inherent in Mary, while Carolee Carmello returns to Broadway as Mrs. Du Maurier, Mary’s high society confidante, who’s also Sylvia’s mother. The four Llewelyn Davies boys are poised and confident, athletic and engaging. Numerous secondary characters assume the roles of the Mr. Frohman’s troupe, pirates, party guests, and characters in the intimate, second act, Peter Pan re-enactment.

James Graham’s book is seamlessly fascinating, while Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy’s music and lyrics keep the rhythmic energy high-spirited. Scott Pask’s sets have a storybook quality that enhances the motif, and Suttirat Anne Larlarb’s costumes are fanciful, credibly shifting from the plot’s theatrical stage to the smaller, recreated stage. Jon Driscoll’s projections gorgeously enhance the backdrops, while Kenneth Posner’s lighting gives every scene a shade of sky blue, magnifying the imaginary location of far-off Neverland. Jonathan Deans’ sound expands the strength of the children’s voices. Mia Michaels’ choreography is most effective in the pirate scenes. Diane Paulus, Director, wove the same magical qualities that were so successful in her recent adaptation of Pippin. Harvey Weinstein’s Finding Neverland is a luminous, must-see show. Kudos to all.



Courtney Balan, Chris Dwan
Tyley Ross, Kelsey Grammer, Teal Wicks, Matthew Morrison
in "Finding Neverland"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg




Sawyer Nunes, Alex Dreier, Laura Michelle Kelly,
Aidan Gemme, Matthew Morrison, Christopher Paul Richards
in "Finding Neverland"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net