By Chris Heide
Imaginative, dazzling and nostalgic. These are just a few ways to describe the national tour of Finding Neverland, now playing at the Paramount Theater. It’s a visually stunning tour-de-force that captures the essence of the lost child within. It purports a theme that surely resonate with the bulk of the audience; an audience filled with adults who are constantly enmeshed with the responsibilities of “adulting”.
According to the press release, Finding Neverland “tells the incredible story behind one of the world's most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever.”
Kevin Kern is outstanding as J.M. Barrie. He contains a boyish charm and resoundingly strong vocals. He has a magnanimous presence in nearly every screen he is in.
The show itself is well-paced. There are many superlative production numbers, mixed with several show-stopping ballads. “Stronger”, in particular, is one of the best musical numbers I have ever seen. It is reminiscent of “Defying Gravity”, with it’s over the top production values and soaring high notes.
Another high point of the show is the choreography. Every large number contains complex, inventive and sharp choreography. The ensemble dancers are quite skilled and help to elevate the artistic quality of the show.
Other outstanding players include Christina Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and Tom Hewitt at Captain James Hook.
Finding Neverland is a must see production. It evokes the childlike nostalgia of Peter Pan, with a fresh contemporary twist. The show is filled with musical wonderment, nuanced comedy and stunning visual effects. It is easy to see why it was such a huge hit on Broadway.