“Finding Neverland” flew into Segerstrom Center for the Arts awakening the inner child of everyone.
The delightful musical draws on inspiration of how one family’s dynamic became the catalyst behind playwright’s J. M. Barrie’s beloved story of Peter Pan. The Davies children and their mother’s transformational arc strikes healing chords of hope and possibility despite dismal or limiting circumstances.
Music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and book by James Graham shape a turn of the century London narrative that makes everyone a believer of possibility again.
Mia Michael’s choreography shined with her visceral movement and a storytelling heartbeat. I always love watching how she can use the simple inhale of breath with a head movement to bring power to the scene. Her ingenious use of a table or bench broaden a dancer’s vocabulary and is a playground for athleticism. Her use of rhythm was amazing with sticks being used as time clock hands and the dancers hitting the floor in unison. This show uniquely has the cast create expansive shapes that result in engaging positive and negative space. From each arm reach to flex foot I was entertained.
The other positives for the show are numerous.
The children (Ben Krieger as Peter, Finn Faulconer as George, Mitchell West as Jack and Tyler Patrick Hennessy as Michael) were so endearing with pure vocals and genuine emotion. They carry a great portion of the show and gave amazing performances that equally matched the adult leads.
Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie and Christine Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies showed the beauty of friendship and the importance of taking stock of reality while never losing the capability of wonder and play. It is Sylvia’s health state (you don’t discover until later) that grounds many moments making the search for optimism and glimmers of imagination to go on so relevant. J.M. Barrie’s discover of story within reality is heart-touching with the relationships with the children.
Tom Hewitt as Charles Frohman/Captain James Hook serves as an excellent contrast coming in with daringly fun temptations of darkness whether in spirit of skepticism or physical alter-ego.
The special effects in the show are astounding leaving moments long to be cherished as happy thoughts.
Treat your family and yourself to some happy thoughts by taking them to see “Finding Neverland” on tour. Please check the website for dates.