The production of the 2015 Broadway musical Finding Neverland may likely be remembered as one of my most memorable touring productions that has graced the stages of Fort Myers this season. But you better hurry if you're going to catch it... It is only playing at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre until November 16th.
The story line is a great lure for Peter Pan lovers everywhere and a safe show to take the kids to see. Based on David Magee's film of the same name, this musical traces how the playwright J.M. Barrie, played by Mark Bacon, came to write 'Peter Pan'.
The musical begins as Mr. J.M. Barrie is experiencing a bit of a writers merry go round. Theater owner Charles Frohman played by Kirk Lawrence, is in dire need of a hit to fill seats at the theater, but everything Barrie writes sounds much like what he's written before as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, played by Josephine Florence Cooper, is quick to point out. Sylvia, is a widowed mother of four boys who all meet Barrie at Kensington Gardens.
Barrie takes a liking to her four sons George, Peter, Jack, and Michael, played by, Canon Dobson, Caisson Dobson, Gabriel Cruz, River Reed, respectively, particularly Peter who is an aspiring writer, but following the tragic loss of his father he's more determined to act as a mature adult and be a steady support system for his hardworking mother instead of an imaginative child embracing his creative tendencies.
The adventures that the boys create, with some help from their new famous friend, serve as fodder for J.M. Barrie's play. While the creative juices are at work and he's busy trying to get the actors on board with his new play concept.
A budding relationship with Sylvia is threatened by illness, and Mr. Barrie must reconcile the world of make believe and real life......... and deal with both.
This musical has it all! It's a wonderful story about the power of imagination and belief, as well as the importance of human connection, and how it can change the lives of those you touch. It's funny, witty, serious and a tear jerker too. (we sat in the back to see the audience reaction) That's impressive for a musical! Even the set designs were impressive, the subtle movement of clouds added a comfortable realness and let's not forget Tinkerbelle!
Cast-wise, the energetic ensemble, the enormously talented kids, and even a scene-stealing dog Porthos, played by the very adorable Oscar Prather, do their very best to deliver a fun evening of entertainment for all........ under the direction of Mia Walker who recreated original director Diane Paulus' work.
Kirk Lawrence makes the most of his character's larger-than-life personality and sells the snippy remarks about children. Emmanuelle Zeesman plays the perfect 'mother in law' character, Josephine Florence Cooper, possibly the strongest soloist of the bunch, is believable as someone who has been through the wringer, but is determined to face whatever obstacle.... to do what's best for her kids. Her rendition of "All that Matters" is strong emotionally and delivers a captivating scene. Mark Bacon captures J.M. Barrie's willingness to embrace his inner child and is at his best when interacting with the boys. and had the range to convincingly play the leading man with boyish charm.
At the end of the show, the audience gave a standing ovation to the cast. (well mostly......., in truth, there were a few who did not stand)
But seriously.... We loved the show! The choreography and dance of the multiple actors on a seemingly small stage was most impressive! And the four boys were absolutely great!
Only running until 11-16 so get your tickets now! Broadway Palm Dinner Theater 239-278-4422