FINDING NEVERLAND(National Tour)
Book by James Graham
Music and Lyrics by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kennedy
Based on the Miramax Motion Picture written by David Magee
And the play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” by Allan Knee
NETworks Presentation, LLC
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Directed by Diane Paulus
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Music Supervision by Fred Lassen
Orchestrations by Simon Hale
Scenic Designer – Scott Pask
Costume Designer – Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Lighting Designer – Kenneth Posner
Sound Designer – Jonathan Deans
Projection Designer – Jon Driscoll
Hair & Make Up Designer – Richard Mawbey
Illusions – Paul Kieve
Air Sculptor – Daniel Wurtzel
Flying Effects – Production Resource Group
Original Music Supervision and Dance and Incidental Musical Arranger – David Chase
Vocal Designer – AnnMarie Milazzo
Musical Director – Ryan Cantwell
Music Coordinator – John Miller
Animal Trainer – William Berloni
Casting – Stewart/Whitley
Tour Booking – The Booking Group, Meredith Blair
Tour Press & Marketing – Anita Dloniak & Associates, Inc.
Artistic Associate – Nancy Harrington
Associate Director – Mia Walker
General Manager Gentry & Associates – Gregory Vander Ploeg
Company Manager – Jack Stephens
Production Stage Manager – Kelsey Tippins
Production Manager, Networks Presentations, LLC – Jason Juenker
Executive Producer, National Artists Management Company – Barry & Fran Weissler, Alecia Parker
Executive Producer, Networks Presentations, LLC – Trinity Wheeler
Production Supervisor, Gentry & Associates – Seth Wenig
Peter Pan – Dee Tomasetta
Wendy (Acting Troupe) – Mary Kate Hartung
Captain Hook (Acting Troupe) – Anthony Festa
J. M. Barrie – Will Ray
Mary Barrie – Janine DiVita
Lord Cannan – Noah Plomgren
Albert – Karl Skyler Urban
Charles Frohman – Matthew Quinn
Elliot – Thomas Miller
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies – Lael Van Keuren
Mr. Henshaw – Dwelvan David
Mr. Cromer – Matt Wolpe
Miss Jones – Ellie Fishman
Miss Bassett – Victoria Huston-Elem
Mrs. Du Maurier – Karen Murphy
Captain James Hook – Matthew Quinn
Porthos – Sammy
The Llewelyn Davies Children – George: Connor Jameson Casey, Bergman Freedman, Colin Wheeler; Peter: Turner Birthisel, Connor Jameson Casey, Bergman Freedman, Colin Wheeler; Jack: Turner Birthisel, Connor Jameson Casey, Bergman Freedman, Brooks Hamilton, , Tyler Patrick Hennessy, Colin Wheeler; Michael: Turner Birthisel, Brooks Hamilton, Tyler Patrick Hennessy
Ensemble – Sarah Marie Charles, Ixchel Cuellar, Dwelvan David, Janine DiVita, Nathan Duszny, Anthony Festa, Ellie Fishman, Mary Kate Hartung, Victoria Huston-Elem, Nathan Keen, Thomas Miller, Noah Plomgren, Dee Tomasetta, Karl Skyler Urban, Matt Wolpe
Swings – Matthew Davies, Matthew Quinn Jayme Wappel
Reviewed Performance: 3/20/2018
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Musical is based on the 1998 play, “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” by Allan Knee and his film adaptation “Finding Neverland” in 2004. It made its way to Broadway in 2015 and ran for 17 months (the information in the previous two sentences is courtesy of Wikipedia). It tells the Story of the inspiration for and the creation of the beloved Play, “Peter Pan” by J. M. Barrie. With a beautiful blend of stage and costume design and brought to life by talented and energetic cast, we are carried to the early 20th Century in London. Barrie (Will Ray), a well-known playwright with some successes to his credit, is under pressure to produce another hit. Feeling in need of new ideas, he and his wife Mary (Janine DiVita take a stroll through near-by Kensington Gardens in the heat of the day. With Mary complaining and walking on ahead, James sits on the perfect bench under the shade of a tree and instead of being visited by the muse, is barraged by the Llewelyn Davies children-George, Jack, Michael and, sitting away from his brothers and refusing to acknowledge make-believe, is Peter.
These four boys are the real-life inspiration for the stories he created for them that became basis of the play “Peter Pan”. With their mother’s permission and company, James, George, Jack, Michael and eventually Peter, fight pirates and Indians and sail the oceans of the world they create in Kensington Park. Meanwhile, the real world continues to intrude on J. M. Barrie’s fantasy. Rumors fly of his relationship with the children’s mother, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Lael Van Keuren) and the degrading nature of a man of his position playing with children and making a fool of himself in public. He is also under pressure to provide a play by producer and theatre owner Charles Frohman (Matthew Quinn), who desperately needs a hit. Reality has no patience with fantasy.
But this musical is a fantasy, despite its ties with history, and we are given a glorification of human imagination and the resilience of the human heart in the face of death and the thousand little tragedies of life. We are urged to dream and, by dreaming, hold on to love and hope and those we care for-the things in life that matter most of all. I am with that philosophy one hundred percent, buoyed on the joyous production my wife and I witnessed Last night. The singing and the acting were strong and engaging. The stage effects were mesmerizing, and, in some places, jaw-dropping. The proscenium, covered by a beautiful multi-colored and gold fringed curtain, was the portal to one of the most remarkable shows I have seen.
Scenic Designer Scott Pask has given this traveling production a marvelous multi-purpose set. From the openness of Kensington Park to the confines of the Barrie’s dining room and on to a cavernous bare stage, all is transformed efficiently and quickly. In fact, the pacing of the entire show is crisp and wonderfully well-directed. The choreography by Mia Michaels (A favorite of mine from So You Think You Can Dance) is just plain fun. It is such a joy to watch-from the delicate duet of James and Sylvia in the number “What You Mean to Me” to the all the stops pulled out ending of Act I, “Stronger”. I must also mention the number “The Dinner Party”, a wonderful fantasy of what I think all of us have wanted to do during a boring event.
I want to point out the projection design of the show by Jon Driscoll in which clouds passed over the moon and birds fluttered through the sky, transforming the back of the stage into a wonderland of its own. Combined with the lighting design of Kenneth Posner it enabled the feel of magic possibilities that was present throughout the show. Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb brought us both to 1900’s London and to drab-to-magic look of stage costumes for the production of Peter Pan within the play. All of it believable. And Air Sculptor Daniel Wurtzel created a moment with wind, glitter and light that took my breath away.
In the midst of this technical magic was a wonderfully talented cast creating its own wonder. Will Ray as J. M. Barrie was the physical and emotional heart of the play. He portrayed the vulnerability of character of a person open to flights of fancy and who finally surrenders completely to wonder and to love. Mr. Ray has a wonderful tenor voice and uses it to great effect. Whether belting out a resolution to be “Stronger” or trying to gently console Peter in “When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground”, Will Ray is emotionally connected and powerful. It is a great performance.
Matching Mr. Ray is Lael Van Keuren’s performance as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. In many ways, she is every child’s dream-the mother who plays with you and watches the little plays you perform and accepts you as you are, dreams and all. She has a lovely voice and gorgeously expresses her love for her children and her hopes for their future. Ms. Van Keuren also believably shows the growing affection for the boy’s ‘playmate’, J. M. Barrie. Thank you for a lovely night.
John Davison, a true stage, TV and screen veteran, makes the most of his two roles. As producer Charles Frohman, Mr. Davison gives us a man who has seen it all and meets the world with cynicism. He has some of the funniest lines of the show and handles them with great timing and relish. And there is a wonderful moment when he opines that Barrie’s play doesn’t have a proper villain and unknowingly provides physical inspiration for the playwright. He also gives a full-bodied portrayal of Captain Hook, embodying the courage and strength that James needs to continue his dream. Mr. Davison is truly frightening (one overcome child was carried out) as Hook and a marvel to watch.
I must apologize to the actors cast as the Llewelyn Davies children. These roles are multiple cast and I was not able to discern who was performing last evening. I know how important it is to read your name in print. The actors I saw were all very good (the song “We’re All Made of Stars” was one of many great moments. And the actor who played Peter was touching and real. Thank you to all of you.
I must also mention Dwelvan David as Mr. Henshaw who wonderfully conveys through his performance an actor playing a role he feels is beneath him. Karen Murphy gives a strong performance as Mrs. Du Maurier, Sylvia’s mother. She is the protector of Sylvia and her reputation, motivated by propriety and love. Ms. Murphy has a lovely singing voice and I wish I had the opportunity to hear it more through the show. And the family dog, Porthos, played by Sammie gets his own grand moment to shine. And a thank you to the entire ensemble for a flawless production.
This is a must-see performance. My wife and I were entranced from beginning to end. And to enter the world of make-believe and fly to Neverland and back with the magic of that world still In my heart is a true gift. Share that with me and make it to this show. You’ll be glad you did.
Performing Arts Fort Worth Presents Broadway At The Bass
March 20 – 25, 2018
Thursday, March 22 – Saturday, March 24 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 24 – Sunday, March 25 – 1:30 PM
Sunday, March 25 – 6:30 PM
Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce St
Fort Worth, TX 76102
For Information and tickets call 817-212-4280 or Toll Free 877-212-4280