“Finding Neverland” - An Uplifting Experience for Your Holiday Season
Finding Neverland tells the story of playwright, J.M. Barrie and how he found the inspiration for and came to write his most beloved play “Peter Pan”. The production currently being presented at Popejoy Hall December 13-16 is just as magical as that beloved classic.
The play opens on J.M. Barrie, (played brilliantly by Jeff Sullivan), enjoying some rare sunshine in London park, while struggling to write his new play. Along comes widowed mother of four, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (played with compassion and whimsy by Ruby Gibbs), and her brood of imaginative sons. Sylvia exposes J.M. to the reality that he is stuck in a rut and creating the same plays over and over again. It is through this exposure and the relationship he cultivates with the boys, particularly with the brooding Peter that help inspire his new creation. As J.M. teaches Peter to be a kid again he also inspires himself to play and trust his own inner child.
The set is simple, mostly backdrops and plain furniture but the lighting design by Kenneth Posner makes it effective and magical especially in his use of shadows which almost become additional characters in the show. This is especially effective in the number between J.M. and Sylvia “What You Mean to Me” which takes place in the second act where their shadows appear to dance with them onstage.
Each musical number is whimsically staged with exquisite choreography by Mia Michaels. The lifts, the flying, the creative use of furniture and props while dancing all added to the wonder of Wonderland.
Each actor portrays their roles delightfully with humor and humaneness including very solid performances by the four child actors (Seth Erdley, Caleb Reese Paul, Paul Schoeller and Ethan Stokes) and an adorable and very well-trained dog.
The best take away from this production is reminding all the adults in the audience to cultivate their sense play as we are reminded of by the song in the second act aptly titled “Play”. This is a good reminder for all of us that become grumpy around the holidays.
The visual effects will leave the audience gasping in awe and with a full feeling in their hearts. Especially a very amazing affect in Act 2 that has to be seen to be believed.
This holiday season treat yourself and your family to tickets to this magical show. You owe it to the kid inside of you.
Finding Neverland will run at Popejoy Hall from December 14th-16th. Tickets are available at http://popejoypresents.com/2018-2019-season/finding-neverland