Finding Neverland may just be the best show at DPAC this season (May 25-28) and it would be worth your while to catch it before it leaves town. The staging is creative, the actors are superb and the musical numbers catchy. (You’ll find yourself unwittingly humming them.) Indeed, the whole production is infectious but the message beneath the surface is moving to both young and older audiences alike reminding us of the playfulness of childhood. It’s an important lesson, especially today, surrounded by 24-hour news cycles and social media beckoning our kids to grow up faster.
The musical, inspired from the 2004 film starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, tells the tale of the family who inspired author J.M. Barrie to write his iconic Peter Pan. When Barrie is confronted with writer’s block he is reminded, by a chance meeting with a group of children, why he started writing in the first place. He tries to recapture the fun of writing and in the process is met with some trepidation by his longtime theatrical producer Charles Frohman. The actors playing Barrie and Frohman are vibrant, talented and often rouse loud applause from the audience. But all the actors are wonderful and capture the emotion necessary to convey both humorous and dramatic plot points of the story.
Indeed, the ending is a stunning spectacle that invokes both beauty and sadness. (We won’t spoil it for you with specifics.) After all, Barrie created the place Neverland as a child when his brother died in an ice skating accident, a mythical world where children never grow up.