Thursday, March 16, 2017

reviews - FINDING NEVERLAND - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Billy Harrigan Tighe and Tom Hewitt
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 19th.

"...Finding Neverland is the 2012 musical based on the 2004 film of the same name. ...The real story of Scottish author Barrie, his relationship with Sylvia Llewlyn Davies and her sons, and how he was inspired to create his play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up...American theatrical producer Charles Frohman (Tom Hewitt) needs a new play...and asks the playwright for a new production...Barrie’s inspiration for a new, fantasy adventure is developed through his new-found relationship with widowed mother of four,...springs the story of the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, named after one of Sylvia’s troubled boys, Peter. ...It’s with the various solos or duets where the score comes across more as merely ordinary, present-day, power ballads; pop/rock songs with a building back beat.....While the show’s principle leads, and certainly the four boys, are perfectly fine, there’s some wild overacting coming from the support, particularly the Barrie’s nervous house staff, and the bizarre, over-the-top approach to Lord Cannan..What works, however, is how the show is presented. Jon Driscoll’s production design looks deluxe. ...Scott Pask’s scenic design, coupled with Suttirat Anne Larlarb’s costumes and Kenneth Posner’s lighting certainly does. .The craft of creative design has rarely looked so awe-inspiring as the final spreading of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust; it glitters center stage in a whirling, spiral, wind-driven dance all of its own, mixing the heartbreak reality of loss with theatrical magic. It’s also the moment when reservations you might have experienced throughout the show will disappear. And in it’s way, that’s also magic." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"...Finding Neverland.. tells how J.M. Barrie's continually popular character Peter Pan came to life and is adapted from the well-received movie of the same name. ...while there are a few rough elements in this musical it is still a fun and heartwarming show that is sure to charm even the most cynical of audience members.....James Graham's script ...only occasionally soars, often plodding along, with the music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy a combination of power ballads and big ensemble numbers...though hardly any of the score shows any musical resemblance to the time period of the piece, which seems a lost opportunity to turn this into something more than just a pop-sounding show with big "American Idol"-sounding ballads. ..Director Diane Paulus received much well-earned acclaim for her direction of the recent revival of Pippin, but her contributions here exhibit a range of directorial choices from magical to laughable. While the leads...are delivering beautiful portrayals, the majority of the ensemble are so broad and over the top in their performances that they often appear to be not only in a different show but often stop this one in its tracks, and not in a good way. I have no idea what Paulus was thinking in having such at odds performances from her cast....Paulus' scenes with the children truly resonate...the combination of Scott Pask's whimsical set design (his act one closer that recreates the deck of Captain Hook's ship is a winner) and the projections by Jon Driscoll tie perfectly into the imaginative tone of the show. Driscoll's cinematic, animated designs whisk us not only from location to location but also send us soaring over the rooftops of London. This helps somewhat to offset the odd acting choices. The last 20 minutes of the show are truly magical due to Paulus' firm control of the emotional moments, including a direct approach in dealing with the show's treatment of death and loss, and also having the show's two antagonists (Hewitt and Karen Murphy as Sylvia's mother) show growth and understanding. But the biggest piece of magic is a stunning effect by Daniel Wurtzel that features a combination of air and glitter (with Kenneth Posner's beautiful lighting) that dazzles and sends the audience's imaginations soaring. Finding Neverland isn't a great musical, but it is a charming one as it portrays the sense of magic and awe that one sees through the joyous eyes of a child. While it might not quite soar as high as it could, I found myself holding back tears and feeling quite moved when the final curtain came down.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"“Finding Neverland,”...offers little quirk and only manufactured charm. The show looks great, with vivid video projections creating a sense of place and time ... But the low-key intimacy of that story...doesn’t translate well to the razzle-dazzle format of a Broadway spectacle. ..drags through the first act before delivering a belated moment of tear-jerking magic at the end. And the score..is pleasant but forgettable...." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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