Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: FINDING NEVERLAND National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Based on Marc Forster's 2004 Academy Award-winning film of the same name as well as Allan Knee's 1998 stage play, The Man Who Was Peter Pan, Finding Neverland tells the true story of J.M. Barrie, a Scottish playwright who's struggling to find inspiration until he meets four Young Brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys' enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write Peter Pan, a play that he hopes will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever.

This musical has had quite a bumpy history. It was originally set to have its world premiere in 2011 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, but was cancelled. The world premiere then took place in Leicester, England one year later. After opening to mixed critical reviews, everyone on the creative team was replaced to completely revise the show. Following a sold out run at The American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the revised version made its Broadway debut on April 15th, 2015, where it received mixed-to-negative critical reviews and zero Tony Award nominations. Though it did spend over a year on Broadway for 565 performances after closing on August 21st, 2016.

As for my thoughts on the show, despite some visually dazzling stagecraft and charismatic performances from Billy Harrigan Tighe, Christine Dwyer, and Rory Donovan, I actually cried only because of how bored I was. The story dramatized here by book writer James Graham never once felt engaging to me and the humor he worked into it I didn't find all that funny either (I may have almost chuckled a couple times, but that was it). Though I will say that the four young boys played by Mitchell Wray, Finn Faulconer, Tyler Patrick Hennessy, and Jordan Cole all seemed very strong.

The score written by Gary Barlow & Eliot Kennedy I also found to be very inconsistent. There were some songs that seemed to fit nicely into the setting, others not so much as they sounded more like modern day. Simon Hale's orchestrations didn't seem to elevate the score either as it sounded very synthesized. What I felt this show was probably most lacking in was energy.

Overall, I didn't really find anything terrible about Finding Neverland, just nothing remarkable about it either. I must've been the only person in the audience who did not clap once at all throughout the whole show. To all the parents out there, if you're looking for a great family-oriented musical to bring your kids to, there are several that are much better than this.



Related Stories

From This Author - Jeffrey Kare

Jeffrey Kare currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. Having been born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Jeffrey took interest in live theater at age 11. He also had the great pleasure of seeing s... (read more about this author)


Review: HAIRSPRAY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterReview: HAIRSPRAY National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
November 17, 2022

Based on John Waters' 1988 cult film of the same name, Hairspray takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in the year 1962. The story centers on a plump teenage girl named Tracy Turnblad, whose lifelong dream is to dance on the local TV dance program known as The Corny Collins Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show and becomes an overnight sensation, she launches a campaign to integrate the show.

Review: North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIASReview: North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
November 6, 2022

Set in Chinquapin, Louisiana during the late 1980s, Steel Magnolias takes place in Truvy's beauty salon where all the ladies who are 'anybody' come to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (who is not sure whether or not she is still married), the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to several of her friends.

Interview: Kathleen Garrett of North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIASInterview: Kathleen Garrett of North Carolina Theatre's STEEL MAGNOLIAS
November 2, 2022

From November 4th-13th, North Carolina Theatre will be launching their 2022-23 season with a production of Robert Harling's STEEL MAGNOLIAS at A.J. Fletcher Opera Theatre, which is located inside Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Actress Kathleen Garrett is taking on the role of Ouiser Boudreaux. She has most recently appeared as Laura Bush on the Showtime series, THE FIRST LADY, as well as Netflix's Emmy nominated miniseries, INVENTING ANNA. Next, she'll be seen on NCIS: LOS ANGELES. She has countless other screen credits which includes appearing on episodes of different TV shows such as HOME IMPROVEMENT, ER, MURDER, SHE WROTE, MURPHY BROWN, THE WEST WING, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, LAW & ORDER, and many more. She's also appeared in Oscar nominated films such as 2007's AMERICAN GANGSTER directed by Ridley Soctt and 2020's THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 directed by Aaron Sorkin. I had the great pleasure of interviewing her about a lot of this and more.

Review: FROZEN National Tour at Durham Performing Arts CenterReview: FROZEN National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
September 16, 2022

Based on Disney's 2013 Academy Award-winning animated movie musical of the same name as well as Hans Christian Andersen's 1844 fairy tale, The Snow Queen, Frozen follows two royal sisters named Anna and Elsa. Read our review of the stage show, based on the blockbuster film, which eventually became the highest-grossing animated movie of all time at the worldwide box office (before it was eventually dethroned by Frozen II six years later).

Review: Theatre Raleigh's YELLOW FACEReview: Theatre Raleigh's YELLOW FACE
July 1, 2022

What did our critic think? Yellow Face follows Asian-American playwright DHH. Fresh off his Tony Award win for M. Butterfly, he leads a protest against the casting of Jonathan Pryce as the Eurasian pimp in the original Broadway production of Miss Saigon, condemning the practice as 'yellowface.' His position soon comes back to haunt him when he mistakes a Caucasian actor, Marcus G. Dahlman, for mixed-race, and casts him as the lead Asian role of his own Broadway-bound comedy, Face Value. When DHH discovers the truth of Marcus' ethnicity, he tries to conceal his blunder to protect his reputation as an Asian-American role model by passing the actor off as a 'Siberian Jew.'