In this fictionalized account of J.M. Barrie's life, as in his real life, James' friendship with a family of young boys inspired him to create the character of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up. But since this is a musical, there has to be inner conflict (James is feeling uninspired writing versions of the same play over and over again), drama (James' theater producer demanding a new play), romance (James and the boys' mother Sylvia fall in love), tragedy (Sylvia dies of the mysterious illness that often befalls pretty people in musicals and movies), and triumph (James becomes father to the boys and they all live happily ever after).
All elements of design combine to create some pretty powerful theater magic, in a Mary Poppins-esque sort of way. Painted backdrops roll in and out, depicting the city of London, Kensington park, and the theater backstage. Moving images are at times projected onto the backdrops, creating new worlds and heightening the sense of fantasy. When James imagines himself inside the world of Peter Pan, a ship's mast and ropes appear out of nowhere. The choreography is also quite magical, modern yet not incongruous with the time period of the story. The cast moves around the stage with energy in a way that's imaginative and fun to watch. Yet one of my favorite moments was a quieter one, the James/Sylvia duet characterized by small subtle flowing movements and shadow-play on the wall. And the moment of Sylvia's death is quite stunning, so much so that my blogger friends and I wish the show had ended right there. (Credits: Scott Pask scenic design, Suttirat Anne Larlarb costume design, Kenneth Posner lighting design, Mia Michaels choreography, Diane Paulus director.)
|the cast of Finding Neverland (photo by Jeremy Daniel)
The magic of Finding Neverland continues at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through November 5 only. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets (student/educator rush tickets also available).