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 Post subject: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:22 pm 
Billy
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:35 am
Posts: 4076
Location: Rochester, NY
Here is the first release of the tour schedule for "Finding Neverland". The tour kicks off this October in Buffalo.

http://findingneverlandthemusical.com/tour/


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:42 am 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6834
Finding Neverland The Musical On Tour will be managed by NetWorks Presentations, who many will recall managed the last North/South American Tour of Billy Elliot the Musical:

http://www.networksontour.com/future-sh ... rland.html


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 2:05 am 
Billy
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:35 am
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Location: Rochester, NY
The cast of the tour has been announced:

http://www.broadway.com/buzz/185793/bel ... neverland/

Kevin Kern, Christine Dwyer and Tony nominee Tom Hewitt will star as J.M. Barrie, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and Charles Froman/Captain Hook, respectively.

The cast of the Finding Neverland tour will feature Joanna Glushak as Mrs. Du Maurier, Jordan Cole as Michael, Finn Faulconer as George, Ben Krieger as Peter/George, Jacob Morrell as Michael/Jack, Gregory Trechel as Peter/Jack and Mitchell Wray as Peter/Jack.


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 5:18 am 
George
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:42 pm
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Location: Ontario, Canada
On Sunday, I was at the opening performance of the tour of Finding Neverland (Friday and Saturday's shows were previews) at Shea's Performing Arts Centre in Buffalo, New York. When I settled into my seat and began reading the playbill, I noticed that the list of musical numbers had changed, so I was particularly interested to see what they had done with the show.

It's worth casting our memories back to the first production of the show in Leicester, UK in 2012. The £7 million show seemed to be headed for the West End, but never got there. Instead, it was massively revised with a new creative team, new book, and new music, and produced at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2014. Alex Dreier was in the cast and stayed with it as the show moved to Broadway, opening in March 2015 and closing August 2016 after 565 performances. The show received no Tony nominations, a fact that was noted by the cast in their Gypsy of the Year performance, where they also noted the show's greater popularity with tourists that with the local theatre establishment.

On the whole, the touring show retains the beauty and magic of the Broadway production, and I highly recommend seeing it. If you saw the Broadway version, you will notice significant changes. There were changes that I liked, but overall, the changes made the show worse. If you haven't seen it, you might want to read this after you see the show, since I might end up spoiling the magic for you.

The beginning of the show was completely reworked. It still opens with Tinkerbell zipping around over the audience. Then the curtain opens and J.M. Barrie is on stage and is quickly surrounded by all the characters from Peter Pan, which he shoos away, saying they don't exist yet. He then talks about writing in the park and the cast sing the bland "Welcome to London" as they walk around Kensington Park. The next song is Barrie singing the forgettable "My Imagination".

The show so far is very heavily with dialog. Characters and settings are introduced with speech instead of doing this with musical numbers as was done on Broadway in "If the World Turned Upside Down" and "All of London is Here Tonight".

Leaving out "All of London" means we do not hear about Barrie's struggle for new ideas: "Just listen to those cheers, even though I haven't had a new idea in years...". We are just told that Charles Frohman is a theatre producer, but it is far more powerful to let that unfold in song: "From London's West End to the Great White Way, I've discovered the best playwrights working today...".

I cannot imagine why they would have swapped out the first two songs for far weaker story-telling. It felt like I was watching a Star War prequel, where the story is told by people sitting on couches and talking, instead of the simple, powerful visuals used in the original three episodes.

And then things got worse. (Thank you, Matilda.)

The Llewelyn-Davies boys arrive to turn Barrie's park bench into a pirate ship. But they don't sing about it. They cut "The Pirates of Kensington". Instead, the boys just man-handle Barrie off the bench. With kids like that, I can understand Frohman's dislike of children. "The Pirates of Kensington" was a key musical number which introduced the idea of play. The song helps the adults in the audience see the world from the point of view of the children and we can understand why Barrie would be interested in engaging the children, instead of saying a very terse "good-day" and finding a place away from the brats to do his writing.

From here on in, the list of songs is mostly the same. "Believe" has changed. It starts off with Sylvia singing instead of Barrie, who comes in later. It is as if Sylvia, more than Barrie, is introducing the lesson about the importance of imagination. It certainly doesn't spoil it and if you didn't know the difference, it would go unnoticed, but I can't help wondering why the change was made.

Another change is moving the scene where Barrie tears up the draft of his play and throws the pieces of paper away. He does this is the park instead of at home with his servants as he does on Broadway. It doesn't have the same impact. The value of the papers hasn't been established yet. On Broadway, we were invited to be part of the pain of his servants watching him slowly tear at the paper, unable to do anything about it.

There is one change I really liked: The nursery scene after the dinner party opens with the boys singing a reprise of "We Own the Night" in which they speak of how they will stay up all night and play. This works.

I was pleased to see that "Stronger" was done just as well as on Broadway. The fully-rigged pirate ship unfolds, including the two front ratlines which the pirates climb. I'm glad they didn't have to reduce this to make it possible to tour.

When George started singing "We're All Made of Stars", he started flubbing the timing of his ukulele strumming right as he was singing "faith will get you through it". For a moment he looked like he was going to break out laughing, but he kept it together, got his rhythm back, and the rest of the song went well. A great recovery.

Most of the second act has not changed much from the Broadway production, but the finale was also significantly changed. Finding Neverland has a difficult job to do: It has to balance the sadness of the death of the boys' mother with the overall positive message of about the importance of imagination and fighting for your dreams.

Broadway did this wonderfully: "I know you feel alone, but we are here beside you. / She left the stars up in the sky so they could guide you. / And you will see her in your dreams, for Neverland is closer than it seems".

On the tour, the finale song was re-written. The part of the song that recognized the loss is missing. There is, again, talk while sitting on the park bench (perhaps they are trying to duplicate the scene from the movie). But the singing is all about imagination while the Peter Pan characters, just like at the very beginning, come on stage again. For me, this tilts the balance too far.

Going for a happy ending is one thing, but ignoring real life (and death) diminishes the depth of the show, making it more like the "lowest form of entertainment" that Frohman bemones near the beginning of the show.

On the technical side, the sound people have some work to do. There were several times that the microphones were not brought up in time, so the beginnings of some spoken and sung lines were lost.

The cast was excellent. Barrie was played by Kevin Kearn, who was the Barrie understudy on Broadway. I saw him in that role on Broadway. He was excellent. I think they have toned back his Scottish accent.

Like on Broadway, the cast includes six boys who share the four boys' parts. Eli Tokash from the Broadway production is among them. They were very good and will be even smoother once they have a bit more time to practice. They didn't age the boys for the tour. The youngest, 4th grader Jordan Cole, is probably smaller than any of the boys who performed on Broadway, but fills the hall with his cries of "I won't go to bed, I won't, I won't!"

The cast includes a real dog. During the curtain call, it came on stage, right up to the front-center, jumped up, and licked the face of Peter. I don't know if that is in the script, but if they can keep it, it's great.

Before the show started, the president of Shea's took to the stage to say that for 17 years he has been working to develop the theatre into a place were Broadway tours originate and do their tech rehearsals. He was proud of the fact that Finding Neverland is the first show to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:59 pm 
Billy
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:35 am
Posts: 4076
Location: Rochester, NY
I saw Finding Neverland last Thursday when the tour was here in Rochester. I greatly enjoyed it.

Liam has done a fine job of detailing the differences compared to Broadway. Most of the changes are at the very beginning or very end of the show. I am less critical of the changes, although I wonder why they bothered to mess with something that I felt worked quite well. My friend used the phrase 'dumbed down'. I wouldn't go that far, but it seems like they felt the tour audiences were less sophisticated than Broadway.

I think the cast is every bit as good as Broadway, and the kids might possibly be even better. The four boys I saw (Ben, Finn, Mitchell, Jordan) looked, acted, and played as much like brothers as one could imagine.

Ben Krieger as Peter is a huge talent! When it came time for Kevin Kern (Barrie) and Ben to sing "When your Feet Don't Touch the Ground", I was blown away by the beauty of their voices. Singing-wise, Ben sounds very much like a clone of the fantastic Aidan Gemme, from the original Broadway cast.

I really enjoyed seeing the show on tour, and would love to see it again.


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:24 pm 
Billy
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:35 am
Posts: 4076
Location: Rochester, NY
Here's a newly released video with an excerpt of Kevin Kern (Barrie) and Ben Krieger (Peter) singing the Act II tear-jerker number "When your Feet Don't Touch the Ground":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF3b9fcHvSg


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:18 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6834
Here is the Tour Montage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adp1hYECStk

and We're All Made of Stars:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNEE23IIdVQ

and the epic Stronger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8gChZTCSgg#t=3.678944


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:02 am 
Dad

Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:05 am
Posts: 1648
Location: Kansas City, USA
I saw the touring production of "Finding Neverland" this evening in Phoenix and found it every bit as enjoyable as the several times that I saw it on Broadway. I had read Liam's post about the changes that were made but had forgotten about it in the 5 months since. Thus, I was caught off guard when the show opened up differently than the way I remember it and was equally surprised when two new songs kicked things off. I was beginning to wonder if this was a completely different version of the show with all new songs and that I had somehow missed reading about it. Soon, however, things began to return to normal, beginning with the scene "Believe."

I actually liked the two new songs quite well - "Welcome to London" and "My Imagination." Billy Harrigan has recently taken over the role of J.M. Barrie from Kevin Kern. Kind of surprised a cast change occurred so soon into the run of the tour. He seems like an excellent choice to play the part and has an amazing singing voice. The understudy for Sylvia was on tonight and also has an excellent singing voice. She seemed perfect for the role as well, so the show certainly didn't suffer any noticeable drop-off with the regular Sylvia off tonight.

The boys were played by Finn Faulconer, Ben Krieger, Colin Wheeler and Jordan Cole. All four were certainly equal to the cast who performed on Broadway, in my opinion. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Ben Krieger turned in the best performance of Peter I've seen up to this point. His acting was just right during the emotional scenes without being too over the top, and you could tell there were real tears being shed. His voice was clear and strong, and on pitch. Needless to say, paired with Billy Harrigan, it made for a magical performance of "When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground."

I didn't mind the change to the ending, although Liam made some good points about the sense of loss being a bit understated when they end with the more upbeat reprise of "Believe." But with the gut-wrenching scene of Sylvia's passing that occurred moments before, it was almost a welcome change I thought to not return to another tear-jerker of "When Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground," as was done in the Broadway version.

The sets, special effects, lighting, etc. that helped make the Broadway show so enjoyable were all present in the tour version. The only noticeable downgrade was the sound system, which produced a very mushy audio and made the lines hard to understand. I must be in the minority in that regard, however, as the audience laughed at all the funny lines so they didn't seem to have as much trouble understanding things as I did. I think part of the problem might have been the grand size of the ASU Gammage auditorium, which is much larger than the theater where it played on Broadway, causing the sound to get lost - at least for me - in the cavernous building. It didn't take away from an otherwise terrific night of entertainment, as I would encourage everyone to see this show if it happens to be in a town near you.


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 Post subject: Re: Finding Neverland
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:17 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6834
I saw FN last night at the Straz in Tampa. I wondered whether it would retain the impact of the Broadway version, and it does (thanks to Diana Paulus' expert direction of both). High recommended!


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