BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND is Endearing to Audiences in San Antonio
Going to see FINDING NEVERLAND for the first time didn't raise any specific expectations. Having heard a little bit about it over the years, there were a few things to consider. It was the story of J.M. Barrie and how he came to write the famed Peter Pan story many years ago. It was well received by audiences on Broadway but was snubbed by the Tony Awards. But, still going in with an open mind and desire to know what the story was all about, it was pleasantly surprising. As the curtain rose and the play began, it was easy to see what made this an audience favorite. With the story simplistic, the songs beautifully performed, the audience was immediately drawn into FINDING NEVERLAND. Billy Harrigan Tighe quickly made the character of J.M Barrie very endearing and it helped the audience connect. Tighe's vocal ability was well suited for the role and such songs as "My Imagination" and "Stronger" really gave him a chance to shine. Many may remember Tighe as Elder Price in THE BOOK OF MORMON on Broadway and on Tour where he did an outstanding job. But, it seems that the role of J.M. Barrie was written just for him.
The children in the show were a real hit as well. In the performance, Peter was played by Ben Krieger, George was played by Finn Faulconer, Jack was played by Mitchell Wray, and young Michael was played by Tyler Patrick Hennessy. Each of the boys showed their individual abilities and talents that made you fall in love with their characters. However, young Ben Krieger as Peter really was able to shine when he sang "When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground" with Tighe. The connection between the characters was evident but the connection between the two actors seemed very clear. They both enjoyed what they were doing as they shared the moment onstage.
Some of the other roles were played by understudies at the performance including Matt Wolpe as Charles Frohman/Hook, Crystal Kellogg as Sylvia, and Sarah Marie Charles as Mary Barrie. Wolpe was endearing in his own way as Frohman but was delightful as he played the evil Hook. He seemed to feel very comfortable in that role and played up the laughs from the audience. Kellogg was strong on her own in such songs as "All That Matters" and "Sylvia's Lullaby." However, in duets with Tighe such as "Neverland" and "What You Mean to Me," there didn't seem to be a real connection between the two actors. Maybe it was because they didn't often perform together or something else, but it seemed that there was no real chemistry between the two actors and the stiffness showed.
The scenery was done by Scott Pask who has designed such shows as THE BOOK OF MORMON and WAITRESS worked his magic on this set as well. Images and design work well together to keep the scenes moving flawlessly. The costuming was beautiful and tried to show the authenticity of the time that the show took place. The ensemble and swings mixed well together and blended their talents to keep FINDING NEVERLAND enjoyable and memorable.
Don't miss the chance to see the inspiration that taught us we never have to grow up and we only have to believe in fairies to find what we are looking for. FINDING NEVERLAND plays at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio from May 2-7, 2017. Tickets can be purchased at majesticempire.com.