Monday, February 15, 2016

Finding Neverland: J.M. Barrie on Broadway


   Peter Pan is one of my favorite things. If you ask people who know me, they will tell you that this love is real. One of my friends drew Peter Pan for me as a Christmas gift a couple of Christmases ago. What is it about Peter Pan that I love so much?  Perhaps it is his smug smile or his endearing sense of adventure, or maybe it is the depth in J.M. Barrie's original novel. I couldn't tell you. One day I would like to talk all about Peter Pan. In fact, I'm sure I will in the future, but for today I want to talk about Finding Neverland. 

 When I started my series on musical theater through the decades, I hadn't listened to Finding Neverland yet. I don't remember my reasoning since I love the source material so much, but it might have had something to do with being busy with school and wanting time to really enjoy the soundtrack. I did listen to it eventually, but it was too late for me to talk about it in the decade it belonged to. Finding Neverland just made its Broadway appearance last March.

  This story goes beyond the Great White Way, though. Some of you might know that a film version under the same title starring Johnny Depp was released in 2004.

  You, like me, may have thought that this was another adaptation of Peter Pan. When I was young and first borrowed the DVD from the library, I was excited to get another glimpse into the fantasy world of Neverland I was so enthralled with. Boy, was I wrong. The story wasn't about Neverland, and it wasn't even about Peter Pan, not really. In the end, that didn't matter because I fell in love with it anyway.

  Finding Neverland is the story of Scottish writer J.M. Barrie. In a low point in his career, he meets a family who inspire him to pen his most famous work, Peter Pan. It is a super touching story about grief and love and believing in something greater than yourself. 

  Another fun fact: Peter Pan and the Darling boys were based off of children from this family, even down to their names. In the film and the musical, Barrie helps the young Peter come to terms with some tragedies in his life. I think one of my favorite moments is when Peter gets to come to the opening of Barrie's play (a play everyone thinks will fail) and he is absolutely astounded by it. 

  The musical takes the source material and builds its gentle music into a symphony, getting you excited with numbers like "Believe" and "Stronger" and making you melancholy with touching songs such as "Sylvia's Lullaby" and "The Finale." 

  I've listened to all of the music, and I would love to see this show live. It has such a good mix of joyful childhood and the sadness of life. Here is the catchy song "Believe." 

  And before you think you can escape without at least two videos, here is one of my personal favorites that has been filmed. In the number "Stronger," Barrie must overcome his personal struggles to create Peter Pan with the help of a familiar future villain. I absolutely love the staging. Enjoy!

  Are you a fan of Finding Neverland, film or show? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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