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BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND Soars at Fox Cities P.A.C.

BWW Review: FINDING NEVERLAND Soars at Fox Cities P.A.C.

FINDING NEVERLAND opened at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton on April 17 and will continue to play through April 22. It is visually stunning, emotionally resonant and pixie-dusted to perfection.

Set in the early 1900s, FINDING NEVERLAND depicts playwright J.M. Barrie's relationship with a widow and her young sons. Barrie is struggling to write his latest play, and the family serves as inspiration for his newest work, "Peter Pan." Over time, the relationship builds to something more, but the mother's health worsens. While FINDING NEVERLAND is based on the 2004 film of the same name, it offers a livelier take on the tale.

Directed by Diane Paulus, FINDING NEVERLAND takes audiences on an emotional roller coaster chock full of magical touches.

The choreography by Mia Michaels is remarkable. Each number has a distinct identity courtesy of the innovative and varied choreography. Props are frequently employed to great effect, and it is impossible to guess what will happen next.

The scenic design by Scott Pask is a visual feast, and the costume design by Suttirat Anne Larlarb is beautifully intricate.

The music by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy is not the show's strongest suit. Most of the tunes are not particularly catchy. While this might be a deal breaker for some shows, FINDING NEVERLAND remains a delight. Each song is undeniably enjoyable while it is being performed, even if the music itself is forgettable. For some reason, the lackluster music does not take away from the overall effect of the show (maybe it has something to do with all the pixie dust).

The most exciting number in the show is "Stronger," the finale for Act I. During the number, the stage is transformed into a pirate ship complete with ropes and rigging. The number is captivating and immersive, and it is something audiences won't soon forget.

Additionally, all of the performers in FINDING NEVERLAND are exceptionally talented.

Billy Harrigan Tighe is charming as J.M. Barrie. His soaring vocals are compelling and impressive.

Christine Dwyer delivers a powerful performance as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. Her ability to transition seamlessly between humor and melancholy add to the show's emotional resonance.

Tom Hewitt offers much needed comic relief as Charles Frohman/Captain James Hook. The veteran actor's subtlety and skill make his performance engaging and dynamic.

The child performers are among the best you could hope to see in any production. They are all excellent singers, actors and dancers and bring energy to the show. Ben Krieger is a particular standout as Peter. His vocals are impressive, and his skillful acting makes his character particularly sympathetic.

Overall, FINDING NEVERLAND offers magic, wonder and excitement, though you might want to bring some tissues.

FINDING NEVERLAND will continue to play at the Fox Cities P.A.C through Saturday, April 22. Tickets are still available.


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