‘Finding Neverland’ is both exuberant and touching

November 25, 2016

Notwithstanding the fact that Carmel, Indiana native Mitchell Wray is a member of the cast, there are plenty of very good reasons to make the drive to Chicago to see “Finding Neverland.”  A national touring production, presented by Broadway in Chicago, the musical is playing now through Dec. 4 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre at 151 Randolph Street in the Windy City.

"Finding Neverland"

“Finding Neverland” – L-R Mitchell Wary, Jordan Cole, Finn Faulkner & Ben Krieger – Courtesy of Carol Rosegg. Used by permission.

11-year old Wray, made quite an impression on Indianapolis area audiences, appearing in shows at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre and in the IndyFringe show, “Calder, the Musical,” in August, prior to joining  the tour.  Now his fans can see for themselves how much he has grown as a performer and seems completely at home on the professional stage.

Wray plays Jack Llewelyn Davies, one of four brothers. They and their mother Sylvia develop a friendship with playwright J.M. Barrie. Eventually the family becomes  a basis for Barrie’s novel “Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” by Peter Magee. The musical is based on the 2004 film “Finding Neverland,” and the 1904 play “Peter Pan, by Alan Knee.

“Finding Neverland” was directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus with book by James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, and Mia Michaels (“So You Think You Can Dance” judge) as choreographer.

A story about the power of imagination, “Finding Neverland,” with its ingenious sets, video projections, special effects, lighting design and costumes, is an unforgettable spectacle. The script, replete with witty dialogue,  is very funny and clever.  Highly entertaining was a cast of comic performers, many of whom created wonderfully quirky and interesting characterizations.

"Finding Neverland"

“Finding Neverland” –  Courtesy of Carol Rosegg, Used by permission.

Kevin Kern who excelled as J.M. Barrie, turned in a first- rate acting and vocal performance as the struggling, self-doubting playwright who finds himself severely in a rut until the Davies boys help him get his creative juices flowing again. Kern was especially impressive during his powerful performance of “Stronger Part I,” “Hook,” and Stronger Part II” songs that close Act. 1.

Christine Dwyer, showed believable romantic chemistry with Kern and turned in a strong performance as the beautiful,  free spirited, widow Sylvia who encourages her always energetic sons to use their imaginations through play. Dwyer, was especially affecting when she sang “Sylvia’s Lullaby.”

Christine Dwyer & Kevin Kern

Christine Dwyer & Kevin Kern – Courtesy of Carol Rosegg. Used by permission.

The potent production number “Circus Part I,II,III, and IV,” featuring a dynamic ensemble of obviously seasoned and uber-talented performers, was one of several highlights in a show featuring a score that is quite simply—captivating.

Praiseworthy for its seamless accompaniment was the 11-piece orchestra led by conductor Ryan Cantwell.

Particularly memorable  were the charming performances of the multi-talented quartet of young actors, who played the spirited Davies brothers. Besides Wray, the others were Ben Krieger as Peter, Finn Faulconer as George, and Jordan Cole as Michael.

A heartwarming family friendly pastime with uplifting messages abounding, “Finding Neverland,” with its play within a play appeal, is sure to please young and old alike.

Tickets for “Finding Neverland” are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com























photo: Julie Curry

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Indy Style, and is a creative arts reporter for Reel Life TV, an entertainment show also broadcast on WISH-TV.

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

  • Creation, content, and publishing: Tom Alvarez
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