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Review Roundup: Broadway-Bound FINDING NEVERLAND Opens at A.R.T. - All the Reviews!

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, FINDING NEVERLAND, with music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Elliot Kennedy, book by James Graham, and direction by Diane Paulus, will officially fly to Broadway. According to The New York Times, 'NEVERLAND' spokesperson Rick Miramontez, has confirmed that the new musical, which opened at will settle in at a Nederlander Organization theater in March 2015.

In FINDING NEVERLAND, when a playwright meets a widow and her four boys in Kensington Gardens, he embarks on a friendship that inspires one of the most beloved stories of all time. Based on the Miramax film written by David Magee, Finding Neverland follows the real-life relationship between the Llewelyn Davies family and James Matthew Barrie as he writes the revolutionary 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Staged by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus and with music by U.K. pop sensation Gary Barlow (Take That), this new musical explores the power of imagination to open up new worlds, and the pressures put upon those worlds by the prospect of growing up.

Let's see what the critics have to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: seems to me that "Neverland" has a fair shot at becoming the kind of show that children drag their parents to..."Neverland" occupies its own niche, built on a blend of 21st-century easy-listening uplift, some timelessly inventive stagecraft and sentiments that would be unlikely to make even a delicate Victorian lady blush...the greater part of the songs -- and a lot of the dialogue -- serve up wisdom on the importance of playtime and the imagination (which, in some cases, sounds a lot like denial to latter-day ears)...The songs usually express similar ideas. They are made up of repetitive beats and swirling chords, and are either highly perky...or soaringly inspirational...Mr. Jordan does well in suggesting a man crippled by arrested development without going all creepy on us.

Joel Brown, The Boston Globe: When "Finding Neverland" tries to state its themes out loud, in song or dialogue, it sometimes settles for upbeat platitudes about living in the moment and letting love lead the way, cliches that could nestle comfortably into any Disney musical. Jordan and Kelly's performances are good enough that the show could have gone deeper...But this is a fun and touching show, gorgeous to look at and listen to, and the 2½ hours mostly fly by. How you feel about "Finding Neverland" will depend on whether you believe that's enough."

Harvard Magazine: Its infectious score by Barlow and Kennedy, as realized by a small pit orchestra and several fine voices in the cast, had both rhythm and pace, with some of the long production numbers moving fluidly between interludes of dialogue and song...The production numbers often involve as many as a score of dancers twirling, climbing, leaping, running, and relocating elements of the set, in a mesmerizing spectacle.

Frank Rizzo, Variety: The new play that J.M. Barrie is struggling to write - which would eventually become "Peter Pan" - in the Broadway-bound tuner "Finding Neverland" doesn't come alive until he finds his villain in Captain Hook. The same can be said for the sometimes wan but sometimes wonderful new musical that is premiering at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. Until that moment, the family-friendly tuner, produced by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein(in his first major theatrical project as lead producer) and based on Miramax's 2004 film of the same name, is well-sung, occasionally charming and nicely staged - but bland. "Finding Neverland" still needs to find itself.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: "Believe," Barrie sings to the boys and their Mom, in the central song in a mostly bland and forgettable score. There are a few memorable moments but no memorable tunes...invoke other, better songs...Whimsy and more whimsy could be said to afflict the show in overdose. It will need to be toned down considerably if any Broadway audience members above the age of five can be expected to sit through it all...However, Paulus and her team of have some wonderful tricks up their collective sleeves. And Jeremy Jordan and Laura Michelle Kelly are pretty terrific leads...Will they be able to erase the too-recent memory of Peter And The Starcatcher, which was more inventive, if similarly cutesy?...To quote the '70s philosopher Tug McGraw: You gotta believe.

Ed Siegel, WBUR/ARTery: "Finding Neverland" (through Sept. 28 at the Loeb Drama Center) is an enjoyable musical, from start to finish. It's well-cast, even better sung and marvelously choreographed by Mia Michaels. Scott Pask's set design is an elegant mixture of realism and fantasy. There's very little not to like, despite the feeling, somewhere in the midpoint of the 2 ½ hours, that you might want to shout, "OK, I get the point. We should be more like children and play more.

Jared Bowen, WGBH: I don't have enough thumbs to raise in appreciation for the new Finding Neverland. It was no surprise to receive their official announcement yesterday: this show is bound for Broadway. Be sure to catch it while you can and see the incredible Jeremy Jordan, who is sure to pick up awards for this performance

Check back in the AM for updates!

Photo Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

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