The musical “Finding Neverland” is at Popejoy Hall at 7:30 p.m. today, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Popejoy is located in the UNM Center for the Arts on the main UNM campus.
Tickets are available at www.unm.tickets.com, at www.popejoypresents.com, by calling 925-5858, at ticket offices the UNM Bookstore and at The Pit (Dreamstyle Arena). For groups of 10 or more inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review By David Steinberg
If you have no plans for this weekend then let me urge you to go see “Finding Neverland.”
If you have made other plans this weekend, change them so that you can go see this heartwarming and bubbly musical at Popejoy Hall.
And be sure to take your kids and your grandkids. The second national touring production of the show is bound to enchant them – and the child in you.
The musical tells how playwright J.M. Barrie was inspired to write his 1904 play “Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.”
Barrie (Jess Sullivan) creates the airborne character of Peter Pan out of his friendship with a young boy named Peter and his three young brothers. Barrie spent hours hanging out with the fun-loving boys and their beautiful widowed mother, Sylvia (Ruby Gibbs)
The family’s time together with the playwright making up stories propelled Barrie (Jess Sullivan) to write a play about the Peter Pan and the other characters, including Wendy and the charmingly villainous Captain Hook (Daniel S. Hayward, and later Conor McGiffin)
Indeed, Barrie gradually gives up the realism that was the basis for his earlier writing in favor of the imagination-fueled story of Peter Pan. Several tunes develop that theme – Barrie singing “My Imagination” and the boys’ “We Own the Night.”
In Act I Hook is Barrie’s alter ego, encouraging the stiff-backed, gentlemanly playwright to give in to his feelings and pursue Sylvia. The act concludes with the boisterous, two-part number “Stronger.”
So, yes, there’s also a love that grows between Sylvia and Barrie, who by now is divorced. Barrie and Sylvia’s love flowers in the romantic number “What You Mean to Me.”
As much as the musical is about Barrie’s relationship with the boys and with their mother, the other members of the cast invigorate the production with their impeccable singing, dancing and humor.
One of the standout performers was the towering Joshua William Green. He dons the costume of Nana the dog and interacts with the boys’ real dog Porthos. Green is also in the middle of a funny British-flavored repartee over the surname Darling.
Bolstering the audience’s excitement are the costumes, the lighting, the illusions and the back-screen projections.
“Finding Neverland” is based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name and on Allan Knee’s play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan.”
Music and lyrics are by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, original choreography by Mia Michaels and book by James Graham.
An NPR review accurately described the show as “Far and away the best musical of the Year!”
A fire alarm delayed Thursday night’s performance by 30 minutes but it did not dampen the enjoyment of the show.