My wonderful Saturday started off early as I met my friend and fellow Blogorail administrator Heidi and her daughters who were in town to see Amazing Grace the musical. It was their first time in New York City so I spent a couple of hours walking around with them and showing them around.
After walking them to their theater, I walked a few blocks to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to begin my journey to Neverland.
Finding Neverland tells the story of playwright J.M. Barrie, and the circumstances which inspired to write Peter Pan. As the show's website boasts, it is "The Story of How Peter Became Pan." It's one of my favorite stories, and the book for Finding Neverland the musical was perfect, in my opinion.
There was one flaw, though; however, it has nothing to do with show in itself, rather it is in the marketing of the show.
When sitting down at the theater I noticed that a rather large portion of the audience included young children. Please don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with bringing children to the theater; in fact, my parents took me to many shows as a child and I'm grateful for that to this day.
I was simply surprised by this because I knew the movie so well, and despite it being about the writing of Peter Pan and the fact that there are children in the show, it most certainly isn't a children's story. Without spoiling the story, there are sad parts and may be emotional for some kids; other younger kids may not understand and find it somewhat boring when Nana the dog isn't on stage.
The cast of Finding Neverland was spectacular. I was very excited to see Matthew Morrison back on a Broadway stage as he took on the lead role of J.M. Barrie. I had previously seen him as Link Larkin in Hairspray and after many years of watching him on Glee, I almost forgot how spectacular he was live. He is an extraordinary singer and dancer, and I was impressed at his ability to keep his accent going even while singing.
Unfortunately, Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, was clearly under the weather. She looked pretty frustrated, even though she sounded fine. At intermission, there was an announcement that she was replaced for the second act. That was the first time I've ever had that happen to me mid-show. Her replacement was excellent and it was as if she had never happened.
Additionally, we missed out on seeing Kelsey Grammer as Charles Frohman and Captain Hook, who was out for the summer. However, Anthony Warlow was absolutely perfect and added humor, good timing and a powerful voice to the role.
Finally, the children were absolutely phenomenal. These incredibly talented and professional kids stole the show, and are a beacon of light as the future of Broadway.
I am not sure why my expectations were low; perhaps I was worried about how they would adapt one of my favorite movies of all time. Finding Neverland blew my expectations out of the water, and my tears throughout the second act should tell you how touching and genuine the story was. It has been a long time since I've seen such an intricate set and a large scale musical such as this, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Parents: be sure your kids are mature enough to understand the topics covered in the musical prior to purchasing tickets. A good idea would be to watch the movie beforehand. Without spoiling the show here, I would suggest viewing the movie to see if you think your child would understand the themes presented in the show.
Aside from that caveat, I highly recommend this musical! Get tickets now before the Original Broadway Cast moves on.