Chicago Falls In Love With FINDING NEVERLAND

Reviewed by: Justin Williams 

Highly Recommended

Sitting at the Cadillac Theatre watching the newly launched tour of Finding Neverland I was thrown off by the first twenty minutes of the shows new opening sequence, which replaces “If The World Turned Upside Down”, “All of London is Here Tonight“, and “Pirates of Kensington” with “Welcome to London” and “Believe”. While chatting with Conductor/Keyboardist Ryan Cantwell, I was told that “the creative team felt that they never got the opening right…” thus bringing us  “Welcome to London” for the First National Tour. The changes made the opening sequence get to the heart of the story a touch quicker but, I feel, left out some beautifully crafted exposition. Overall the adjustments to the show make it more family oriented and do not take away from this beautiful story and production.Finding Neverland is based on the Academy Award – winning film by David Magee and the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee. Finding Neverland The Musical has a book written by Olivier Award – nominee James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow (Take That), and Grammy Award – winner Eliot Kennedy. It was directed by Tony – winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Hair) and choreographed by Emmy Award – winner Mia Michaels ( “So You Think You Can Dance”, Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium).

Finding Neverland premiered at the A.R.T. July 23, 2014 and closed September 24, 2014 with Jeremy Jordan as J.M. Barrie, Laura Michelle Kelly as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, Carolee Carmello as Mrs. Du Maurier, and Michael McGrath as Charles Frohman. Shortly after the closing it was announced that it was making a Broadway transfer with Matthew Morrison as J.M. Barrie and Kelsey Grammar as Charles Frohman. The stunning Broadway production opened April 15, 2015 and closed 565 performances later on August 21, 2016. The show received no Tony Award nominations.

The First National Tour of Finding Neverland had its first Chicago audience fall in love with this beautiful show last night during its opening. The cast is led by Kevin Kern (J.M. Barrie), Kern is an absolute delight as J.M. Barrie, the beloved playwright. Kern takes command the moment he enters the stage and doesn’t relinquish it until you start to exit the theatre. His portrayal of the playwright is one of the most honest performances I have seen in a long time. Kerns vocals were meant for this score, a very clear reason as to why he’s one of the best voices on Broadway.

Tom Hewitt is the essence of Captain Hook. Hewitt embodies both roles of Charles Frohman and Captain Hook so well that you are “hooked” from the first time you meet him. Christine Dwyer turns in a beautiful performance as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. Dwyer has a voice that is able to let loose a few times during this score, but “All That Matters” had to have been my favorite of hers.

The Davies Boys played by Ben Krieger (Peter), Finn Faulconer (George), Mitchell Wray (Jack), and Jordan Cole ( Michael) were all incredible. Their chemistry as brothers was wonderful and “We’re All Made of Stars” was a huge hit with the audience.

The Ensemble of Finding Neverland is solid from top to bottom with many memorable performances being turned in. This company is a true definition of an ensemble. They are all working together every second of this show and it has a huge payout.

If you are looking for the perfect family night, date night, or you just want to go see a good show, Finding Neverland is here until December 4, 2016. Visit BroadwayinChicago.com for tickets and showtimes.