BWW Interview: Crystal Kellogg of FINDING NEVERLAND
BroadwayWorld San Francisco talks with Crystal Kellogg, Mary Barrie and the understudy for Sylvia in Finding Neverland. Kellogg joins the tour after performing in the Broadway production and tells us about changes to the musical, the history behind the story and her own personal connection to the Bay Area.
Finding Neverland is based on the Johnny Depp film. How does the musical compare?
Well, first off, I love the movie. It's pretty much the same. It's about the writer of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie. It's the story about how he meets this mother and her four boys and how they eventually influence him to write Peter Pan, and they kind of help him to go back to that creative writing and play, and really find that more childlike quality in him. The whole story line is the same. It just has music involved. They actually use his character of Captain Hook. He brings another part of his imagination alive that creates the villainous part and darker side of things that makes his writing a little more well-rounded.
The national tour features a couple of new songs. How do those songs contribute to the story? And what is the score like for the show on the whole?
The whole opening is different from the Broadway production. They kind of saw this as an opportunity to reinvent some things and get to the plot line a little quicker. We have a brand new song in the beginning. J.M. Barrie also has a new song that they wrote for him. They felt like they didn't have one of those - I guess you would call it an eleven o'clock number, unfolding his whole mindset. It's called "My Imagination." For the most part, the rest is relatively the same. They changed the ending a little bit. We do a reprise of "Believe." It just brings a positive note to the end of it.
The music is very eclectic, I would say. There are driving ballads in it. There's a number that's one of my favorites called "Play," which is almost like it has a lot of Irish influences, and that one's a lot of fun. There's some very quintessential musical theatre pieces. But it does have a little bit of everything.
Finding Neverland did fairly well on Broadway despite a lack of Tony nominations. Is it Tinker Bell's fairy dust and Peter Pan's magic that made it such a success or is there more to the tale?
I really think that the show has something for everybody. I was in the Broadway production, as well. We had adults come. We had a lot of kids come. The message can relate to kids and adults, alike - finding that creative part of you. It's okay to feel like a kid sometimes and to play and to imagine.
The show has a strong history behind it, and these characters played a large part in the history of the theatre world. Did you do any research coming into the show?
I did a little research as far as the history of the real people. I play Mary Barrie, his wife. I wanted to read up about playing a real person and what kind of things they went through. She was an actress in one of his plays, and I guess when he came in he got sick or something, and she took care of him. After that, they ended up getting married. This is also a time when there weren't a lot of children's plays. Peter Pan was one of the first ones that was written, and there was kind of a lot of controversy. Would this be acceptable? And can a children's play really touch the hearts of kids and adults, alike? It was very revolutionary.
J.M. Barrie and these kids use their imaginations to create magic - an experience that must be close to any actor's heart. How do you relate to the story as an actress?
It actually reminds me. Every day on stage I do it because I love it and I have fun with it. If I'm not having fun with it, I feel like I'm doing something wrong. There is a song called "Play." This whole show reminds all of us actors on stage to keep playing. I think that's one of the things that is really special about this show, having the Broadway cast and the tour cast. I don't think I've ever worked with a group of actors who really are encouraged to just have a good time on stage and create our character with each other. Our director really encouraged us to do that.
As an artist, Barrie goes through the universal self-doubt and up-hill battle we all can relate to. The theatre can be a difficult place to work, but also a wonderful place to work. How have you tackled your own growth as an actress?
Honestly, it's a step by step thing. I'm kind of learning from ever experience I have and really looking to see how I can grow. Every character that I play, I learn something new about myself. I feel like I open up another vulnerable side of me. I think that's the biggest thing that I've grown from doing different shows, becoming more vulnerable and more present with each role that I play.
You had your Broadway debut recently with School of Rock and also performed in the ensemble of Finding Neverland on Broadway before taking the role you understudied there for the national tour. You've also worked with other national tours like Kinky Boots. How has that experience been? Your career seems to be headed down a great path.
It is. I'm really excited about it! I've kind of just rolled with the punches, and really just gotten more comfortable bringing my unique self to every audition and to every role that I play. I think that's kind of how my career at this point could come forward so much. Just being myself and knowing myself and trusting in that.
Of course, the support of family and friends is always an encouragement. You have ties to the Bay Area. What are you most looking forward to as you return to San Francisco?
My brother lives in San Francisco and his fiancé. I'm really excited to see them. San Francisco was one of my favorite cities when we were on tour for Kinky Boots. I'm staying at an air b&b, so I really get to experience the local life. It reminds me a little bit of New York, my home. It's strange, but I love public transportation, and being able to just get anywhere if I need to. And again, going back to see all the things that I loved before.
As you continue to "fly" with the national tour of Finding Neverland, what is your happy thought?
My happy thought right now is my sister is having a baby soon. I'm excited to meet her.
Finding Neverland opens January 18 at SHN Broadway San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre, playing through February 12. Learn more at www.shnsf.com.
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg
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