This a guest post written by writer Lisa Gerstel-Zach: A diverse and seasoned executive who has spent her career in Children’s and Family Entertainment via Publishing, Live Events and Broadcast before stepping back to take a much earned reprieve from the Corporate world in order to reinvent herself and remember why she moved to New York. She lives in the latest hip neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
We seem to be in the midst of, or maybe just emerging, from an overload of reconstructed/deconstructed children’s fairytales being retold and reimagined for the screen, hence the timing of Finding Neverland is perfect, intentionally or not. As for me, I’ve been entertaining visitors non-stop since the beginning of May and, therefore, non-stop theater going. Strangely, all the stories have been based in England.
Finding Neverland is based in the London of 1904. Though it feels surprisingly modern, it is a refreshing reminder to step back, step away from the seriousness that surrounds us and join a band of pirates, chase a fairy, or just let our imaginations soar.
The show centers around the Author behind the tale of the boy who never wanted to grow up, Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie finds himself a celebrated playwright in London with all the trappings, yet none of the joy. He hasn’t composed a unique show in years, his marriage is lackluster, his creativity seems spent, and his Producer is threatening to bring in new talent…
Fortuitously, a troop of “lost” boys turns Mr. Barrie’s world upside down along with that of the theater’s full-of-themselves stuffy actors and an ulcer-ridden producer, all of whom have forgotten the true meaning of the word PLAY.
Matthew Morrison’s, (J.M Barrie) mere entrance on stage in the opening scene is enough to cause more than half the audience to applaud wildly. Fortunately, he deserves it. His voice is wonderful and his stage presence strong as be battles with internal conflicts. His portrayal of a “lost” man is complete, especially in the standout song “Circus of Your Mind” in which the entire cast participates.
Kelsy Grammer is terrific as the Producer and even more so as Captain Hook (was he channeling Captain Jack??). Regardless, the role suits him perfectly, so much so I wish we could have seen more of him as the Captain. He is always a pleasure to watch.
Laura Michelle Kelly (Sylvia) was lovely; she has a great voice and projected the “strength” of a heartbroken, overwhelmed and yet dedicated mother. Although I found a few of her lines a bit sappy, her death scene was amazing. In fact, much of the staging was “First Rate” (as they would say) – backdrops of row houses popped, swirling lights emulated the seas and of course pixie dust floated through the air in abundance.
Finding Neverland is the story of how sometimes it takes a band of “wild children” to allow yourself to dig deep and reconnect with the person you truly are…It is an inspirational departure from the bleakness of societal boundaries and expectations, overdone dinner parties and the insistence that we behave like adults just because…
My only reservation was that no fairy dust made it our way enabling us too to fly.
Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street). The schedule is as follows: Tuesday at 7:30pm, Wednesday at 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Tickets can be arranged online or by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929 or in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office, located at 205 West 46th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenues. For more information, please visit www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com.
Disclosure: Lisa received complimentary tickets to Finding Neverland to facilitate her review but all opinions are her own.