“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” ― J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.
The concept of imagination was center stage at the Kansas City Music Hall’s whimsical presentation of the national Broadway touring production of Finding Neverland. With dynamic special effects including a kid-favorite fluffy dog, fairy dust, digital backdrops and gorgeous painted scenery, costumes, standout music, lively production numbers, and a talented cast, it allowed younger theater goers (and me) to use their imagination and allow the magic of Finding Neverland to engulf them.
If you’re not familiar, Finding Neverland tells the heartwarming story of how J.M. Barrie was inspired to write the classic “Peter Pan.” Finding Neverland is appearing at the Music Hall through March 4. Based on the Academy Award winning film by the same name, it was first performed in 2012 in London and opened in New York in 2015.
With facets for the entire family to enjoy, Finding Neverland is a great intergenerational family musical outing. At the end of the first act, a pirate’s ship is created before your eyes in a surprising way. The four small, rambunctious, imaginative boys, who have lost their father, will tug on adult’s hearts. Loss, love and betrayal are central elements in Finding Neverland’s plot. The young woman next to me was sobbing towards the end. She was my 23-year-old daughter.
J.M. Barrie was a successful playwright who is stuck repeatedly writing what he has previous brought to the stage. Then, after a chance meeting in Kensington Garden, he is inspired by the imaginative play of four boys–the Llewelyn Davies children. He decides to deviate from his trite plays, which were enjoyed by London’s high-society, and resolves to write something fresh that embraces childlike imagination that he squashed long ago.
Music Hall, Kansas City, MO. Feb. 27 – Mar. 4, 2018
Presented by Theatre League
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
The performance of John Davidson (That’s Incredible, Love Boat, Edward Scissorhands, Airport 79) as Charles Frohman, the theatre owner, was strong. He seemed to have a twinkle in his eyes as he shared his thoughts with the audience and the demands of his playwright Barrie. Frohman stated that, “Every play needs a villain” which is so true for young and old alike to enjoy the theatre. Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (performed by Lael Van Keuren) is a widow and mother to the four boys. Her performance nailed “All That Matters.” Although none of the songs have entered pop culture, I found myself humming “Believe” this morning.
Finding Neverland is a great musical for the family to attend–especially if your kids are new to stage productions. There’s humor throughout the musical on many levels so all can enjoy. Although there are a few poor choices of language, it can be overlooked for the greater enjoyment of the show and the instances pass quickly.
In Finding Neverland, you will be challenged to believe! Discover your ability to “fly” before this production takes off from Kansas City.