BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND at Fox Theatre

BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND at Fox TheatreFINDING NEVERLAND made its Broadway debut in 2015 starring Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly and Kelsey Grammer. I saw the show twice (once before and once after Grammer left the show) and was smitten. I listened to the soundtrack regularly and even purchased the musical's album (similar to the mixtape album of "Hamilton" songs) featuring Nick Jonas, Jennifer Lopez and John Legend. So, you would say I was a bit confused when the FINDING NEVERLAND national tour's first number was "Neverland" instead of "If the World Turned Upside Down." You could say I was perplexed when the curtain was drawn and J.M. Barrie was on stage with all of the characters from Peter Pan instead of at a cocktail party celebrating the opening night of his new play.

What made the creative team (book by James Graham and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy) change the first half of act one and make subtle changes to act two's lineup? One could guess that being a total oversight at the Tony Awards would be a clear front-runner. However, the show's plot, though telling the fictitious story of how J.M. Barrie creates the tale of Peter Pan, is not entirely the most light-hearted. I can only assume that the script changes were made for the reason of being consumed by the masses, making it a bigger draw to children of all ages and more family-oriented.

Even with all the changes, the music was still exceptional, and the story was still enchanting. There's just something about Peter Pan and Wendy and the lost boys that just make you want to be a child again. They make you want to travel to the second star on the right, head to Neverland and never return home. They make you homesick for a bedtime story from whatever motherly figure you might have in your life. There is just something remarkably magical about it all.

Bill Harrigan Tighe played an exceptional J.M. Barrie, showcasing a strong voice and outstanding dance ability. (Note: a lot of leads in musical are par dancers at best. Not this guy.) My only concern with Tighe was he was a bit young, which is most likely just a casting choice to be more relatable to younger audiences. Christine Dwyer also played the perfect motherly figure as the lovely Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, which is by far my favorite character in the show. Again, Dwyer was much too young to portray a mother with three children.

Overall, an exceptional production with exceptional talent. You laugh and cry and have all the feels, despite my disappointment in the unnecessary changes made in the show. After all, if it's good enough for Broadway, it is probably good enough for every other theatre in the nation.

FINDING NEVERLAND is playing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre through Sunday, May 21st. It will run a total of eight shows before heading to the next location in the tour. Tickets can be purchased online from $33.50-$128.50.

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