The penultimate show of the Durham Performing Arts Center’s critically acclaimed 2016-17 “Dream Big” SunTrust Broadway Series is the First National Tour of the crowd-pleasing 2015 Broadway and 2017 West End musical Finding Neverland, produced by Weinstein Live Entertainment and NETworks Presentations, directed by Diane Paulus, and choreographed by Mia Michaels. Finding Neverland, which won four 2015 Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards, including the Favorite New Musical award and the Favorite New Song award for “Believe,” will play eight high-octane performances on May 23-28 in DPAC‘s 2,700-seat, state-of-the-art theater in the American Tobacco Historic District of downtown Durham.
“Based on the Academy Award®-winning  Miramax motion picture by [screenwriter] David Magee, and the  play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee, Finding Neverland follows the relationship between playwright J.M. Barrie [(1860-1937)] and the [Llewelyn Davies] family that inspired Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up — one of the most beloved stories of all time.
“Directed by Tony® winner Diane Paulus ([2013 Broadway Revival of] Pippin, [2009 and 2011 Broadway Revivals of] Hair) with book by Olivier Award®-nominee James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow (Take That) and Grammy Award® winner Eliot Kennedy, and choreography by Emmy Award®-winner Mia Michaels (‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium), this new musical, packed with mesmerizing visuals, irresistible songs and plenty of laughs, is a timeless story about the power of imagination … and spectacular proof that you never really have to grow up.
“The production features scenic design by Tony Award winner Scott Pask (Pippin, The Book of Mormon), lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (The Coast of Utopia, Pippin), costume design by Suttirat Anne Larlarb (Of Mice and Men), sound design by Tony Award nominee Jonathan Deans (Pippin, La Cage aux Folles), hair and make-up design by Richard Mawbey, projection design by Jon Driscoll, music supervision by Fred Lassen, musical direction by Ryan Cantwell, and casting by Stewart/Whitley.”
According to the musical’s website:
“…[T]his breathtaking show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer — and the man — he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia [Llewelyn Davies] and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. Delighted by the boys’ hilarious escapades, Barrie conjures the magical world of Neverland and writes a play unlike any the high-society London theatergoers have ever seen. It’s a tremendous risk, but as Barrie himself has discovered — When you believe, you can fly.”
In naming the original Broadway production of Finding Neverland one of the top 10 plays and musicals of 2015, Time magazine critic Richard Zoglin wrote: “The critics had the hook out from the start for this Broadway musical from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, based on his 2004 film about J.M. Barrie and the creation of Peter Pan. Against all odds, it turned out to be a spirited, tuneful and nimbly staged delight — a marked improvement over the movie, and the very model of a modern family musical.”
NYTheatreGuide.com characterized this hit show as a musical “Full of magic, excitement, and imagination. Overall this show is one that cannot be missed.”
The current tour of Finding Neverland, which kicked off on Oct. 7, 2016 at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY, and is currently scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2017 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, FL, stars Billy Harrigan Tighe as Scottish actor, dramatist, and novelist J.M. Barrie; Rory Donovan as U.S. and U.K. theatrical producer Charles Frohman (1856-1915) and Peter Pan’s archenemy, pirate Captain James Hook of the Jolly Roger; and Christine Dwyer as beautiful widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (1866-1910), who has four young sons: Jack, George, Michael, and Peter. (Six young actors share the roles of the four Llewelyn Davies lads. At different times, Jordan Cole plays Michael; Finn Faulconer portrays George; Tyler Patrick Hennessy plays Jack and Michael; Ben Krieger portrays Peter or George; Mitchell Wray plays Peter, Jack, or Michael; and Colin Wheeler portrays George, Jack, or Peter.)
The tour also stars Karen Murphy as Sylvia’s mother Mrs. du Maurier, Kristine Reese as J.M. Barrie’s disagreeable wife Mary, and Noah Plomgren as Mary Barrie’s suitor Lord Cannan. Members of the acting troupe that first performs Peter Pan include Will Ray as Mr. Turpin (who plays Captain Hook), Dwelvan David as Mr. Henshaw, Matt Wolpe as Mr. Cromer, Victoria Huston-Elem as Miss Bassett, and Dee Tomasetta as Miss Potter (who plays Peter Pan), plus Thomas Miller as Frohman’s stage manager Elliot. Corey Rives plays Albert, and Lael Van Keuren portrays Miss Jones.
Members of the tour’s Ensemble include Sarah Marie Charles, Adrianne Chu, Calvin Cooper, Dwelvan David, Nathan Duszny, Victoria Huston-Elem, Corey Rives, Christina Belinsky, Noah Plomgren, Thomas Miller, and Lael Van Keuren. Swings include Melissa Hunter McCann, Connor McRory, and Matthew Quinn.
In reviewing the tour for the Los Angeles Times, Margaret Gray mused, “The touring production of Finding Neverland … may well inspire a new generation of young playwrights. The highly romanticized musical, directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Hair) …, makes writing look like a nonstop thrill ride, not to mention a great workout and a probing form of therapy.”
In her review for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sharon Eberson added, “For all the glitter and flash of Finding Neverland, what shines through is a top-to-bottom talented cast and the spirit of imagination in overdrive.”
SECOND OPINION: May 18th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Logan A. White for “Teens & Twenties”: http://teensandtwenties.com/finding-neverland-star-on-craft-character-creativity/; May 17th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article150995082.html; May 16th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com BWW TV interview with Christine Dwyer, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Christine-Dwyer-of-FINDING-NEVERLAND-National-Tour-20170516; May 16th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/entertainment/article150798072.html; and Oct. 11, 2016 New York, NY Playbill.com preview by Andrew Gans: http://www.playbill.com/article/finding-neverland-national-tour-opens-tonight.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents FINDING NEVERLAND at 7:30 p.m. May 23-25, 8 p.m. May 26, 2 and 8 p.m. May 27, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 28 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
Tickets: $40 and up, plus taxes. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/2209739.
GROUP RATES (12+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adp1hYECStk.
DPAC‘S 2016-17 “DREAM BIG” SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/direct-from-new-york-nederlander-presents-suntrust-broadway-at-dpac-2016-2017-season.
THE TOUR: http://findingneverlandthemusical.com/, https://www.ibdb.com/tour-production/finding-neverland–500948, https://www.facebook.com/FindingNeverlandTheMusical, https://twitter.com/neverlandbway, and https://www.youtube.com/user/NeverlandTheMusical.
TOUR CAST/CREATIVE TEAM: http://findingneverlandthemusical.com/cast/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24th, and 8 p.m. Friday, May 26th, performances.
Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy (1904 play and 1911 novel): https://www.britannica.com/topic/Peter-Pan-play-by-Barrie (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_Wendy (Wikipedia).
Sir J.M. Barrie (Scottish actor, dramatist, and novelist, nee James Matthew Barrie, 1860-1937): https://www.britannica.com/biography/J-M-Barrie (Encyclopædia Britannica), http://jmbarrie.co.uk/ (Dafydd Brown’s fan site), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/james-m-barrie-6613 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0057381/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._M._Barrie (Wikipedia).
The Man Who Was Peter Pan (1998 play): http://jmbarrie.co.uk/msgbrd/index.php?topic=48.0 (JMBarrie.co.uk web page).
Allan Knee (playwright and screenwriter): http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsK/knee-allan.html (Dollee.com: The Playwrights Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/allan-knee-4078 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0460632/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Knee (Wikipedia).
Finding Neverland (2004 film): https://www.miramax.com/movie/finding-neverland/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0308644/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/452507/Finding-Neverland/ (Turner Classic Movies), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finding_Neverland_(film) (Wikipedia).
Finding Neverland (2015 Broadway and 2017 West End musical): http://findingneverlandthemusical.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/finding-neverland-498336 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finding_Neverland_(musical) (Wikipedia).
Gary Barlow (music and lyrics): http://www.garybarlow.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/gary-barlow-498339 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0055239/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Barlow (Wikipedia).
Eliot Kennedy (music and lyrics): http://smatalent.com/kennedy-eliot/ (SMA Talent bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/eliot-kennedy-498340 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1590293/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Kennedy (Wikipedia).
James Graham (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/james-graham-498338 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3037341/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Graham_(playwright) (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)