“Finding Neverland” is a journey into fantasy with a serious message

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Scene from
Scene from "Finding Neverland"

Broadway series at the State Theatre

The venerable State Theatre in New Brunswick presented a more serious musical as part of its Broadway series with Finding Neverland. The partly-fictionalized story of how playwright J.M. Barrie came up with one of his greatest hits, Peter Pan, the musical touched on serious themes of finding love and facing up to impending death with sensitivity.

Scene from "Finding Neverland." Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
Scene from “Finding Neverland.” Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

While the show took a while to find its feet after the opening ballet “Neverland” and the scene-setting number “Welcome to London,” once we entered Barrie’s imagination in the production number “Circus of Your Mind” the show picked up energy that lasted up to the touching conclusion. Director Mia Walker used a firm but light touch guiding her cast, and Paul Kieve’s illusions provided visual magic. Out of the large cast, Jeff Sullivan as Barrie and Ruby Gibbs as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies showed genuine romantic chemistry, while Conor McGiffin in the dual role of producer Charles Frohman and Captain Hook and Emmanuelle Zeesman as Mrs. Du Maurier, Sylvia’s mother, provided the right amount of dramatic gravity.

Finding Neverland played March 22-23, 2019 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. The only reasonably close stop on the tour will be at Brookville, NY on May 19, 2019 at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. For more information on the tour of Finding Neverland, go to findingneverlandthemusical.com/tour/.

The final production in this season’s Broadway series at the State Theatre will be the 20th anniversary production of the musical Rent, playing April 2-4, 2019. For more information about coming attractions at the State Theatre, including next season’s Broadway series, go to stnj.org.

Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first live play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. He works in the box office at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.