BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Most everybody is familiar with the famous story of the boy who wouldn't grow up. Peter Pan's mischievous innocence is embedded into all of our hearts. But how exactly did Peter and his world of Neverland come to be? Is Peter based on a real person, or is he a complete work of fiction? These answers can be found within the tale told by Finding Neverland, a musical based on the film of the same title. This stunning story is almost more extraordinary than the play that it centers around. It is truly a feast for all of the senses. Enter playwright J.M. Barrie. Frustrated by his inability to come up with a new hit play for his boss, Charles Frohman, Barrie finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places... a widow and her sons that he bumps into one day while in the park. Sylvia and her four sons, Jack, George, Michael, and Peter, remind Barrie of the true meaning of eternal youth and become the key that unlocks the magickal world of Neverland that we all know and love today. In particular, Peter becomes the real world influence for Pan himself. Currently in the midst of a touring circuit, this version of Finding Neverland has found a temporary home at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, and I couldn't be happier to have had a chance to experience it.
A dinner at Dutch Apple is always a delicious experience and never disappoints. While the selection is not huge, it offers enough variety to satisfy most every appetite. The servers are always very friendly and very accommodating as well.
The sets for this production are astounding. The mixture of detailed backdrops and projections is breathtaking, to say the least. There is a moment during Slyvia's song "All That Matters" where her singing combined with the galaxy backdrop was so overwhelmingly gorgeous that I started sobbing (Sylvia is portrayed perfectly by Josephine Florence Cooper). Jon Driscoll's projection work is pure art. That alone is worth checking out this show. There were a few technical difficulties with the sound throughout the show, but the lighting and sound design (created by Russell A. Thompson and David Temby respectively) were well executed overall to fit the show.
The performers were just as spot on as the design elements, and I found myself completely swept away by the romance and fantasy of it all. I really enjoyed the choreography (brilliantly created by Mia Michaels). I found it quite unique in comparison to many of the musical theatre numbers I've seen. There is a Steampunk element to the old London setting of the musical, and this is reflected in a dazzling way in her choreo. Mark Bacon is simply brilliant as the charismatic J.M. Barrie. It was thrilling to watch his journey from a broken down writer who felt like he had nothing left to give to finding his voice through the creation of Neverland (with a little bit of help from his alter ego, Captain Hook (played splendidly by Kirk Lawrence), along the way). All of the children were spectacular in their roles as the Davies children. The ensemble was the icing on the cake of this well cast show, and everyone was just perfect for their roles.
This is a production that I would definitely recommend to the entire family without hesitation, especially if you love the story of Peter Pan and are interested in learning more about the origins of Neverland's creation. Finding Neverland is playing now through September 21st, so take a chance to come see it before they hit the road again. Visit www.dutchapple.com for showtimes and to purchase your tickets today. Then, follow the second star to the right and get ready for a magickal adventure like no other!