4 October 2012 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Finding Neverland is a brand new musical currently having it’s world premiere at the Curve Theatre in Leicester. With a first class creative team including esteemed producer Harvey Weinstein and director/choreographer Rob Ashford, the show has been deemed a huge hit since the initial announcement. Based on the award-winning film of the same name starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, Finding Neverland tells the story of playwright James Barrie and the events that lead up to his creation of Peter Pan. The book is full of charm and is expertly written by Allan Knee. Effectively anchoring the text are music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie respectively, and although perhaps not entirely memorable, they are beautifully delivered. Scott Pask’s scenic design is stunning and is made to look even more beautiful under Neil Austin’s lighting and Jon Driscoll & Gemma Carrington’s projection. The transition between interior and exterior scenes using the same framework look wonderful. With such a large scale set and automated pieces, it is very apparent why Weinstein chose the Curve for it’s debut. Although perhaps not the most practically designed theatre, it has world class technical facilities which would even put some West End theatres to shame. Already being destined for a London transfer, it will be interesting to see which theatre could accommodate it in it’s entirety. Julian Ovenden is one of this country’s best leading men and his interpretation of James Barrie is quite extraordinary. He strikes a perfect balance between the playful boy-ish nature of his character and the serious side which his wife (played brilliantly by Clare Foster) encourages. There is clearly an internal battle going on which is fascinating to watch. Ovenden’s vocals too are second to none. I remember first being exposed to his work in Marguerite back in 2007 and he just gets better and better. Barrie’s main source of inspiration was his meeting with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her four sons. This throws added confusion into the mix over his relationship with his wife. Sylvia is played by Rosalie Craig who gives an astonishing performance in every sense. She is a very classic performer and between Craig and Ovenden, they probably form one of the strongest lead pairings I have seen in a long time. I remember her impressive vocals from her portrayal of Arwen in The Lord of the Rings as they are so strong and distinctive. The entire ensemble company deserve high praise as it is a true collaborative piece. The young actors playing the four Llewelyn Davies boys are really talented and I’m sure will go on to do great things, particularly Luke James playing Peter. I haven’t experienced such magic in a theatre production since Mary Poppins and would definitely say with a small amount of tweaking, the performance would be perfect. Without spoiling the ending for anyone planning to see it, all did not quite go to plan last night but with such a technical production, one element out of hundreds was not bad going at all. I would more than highly recommend this production to anyone. It runs at the Curve Theatre in Leicester until Thursday 18th October. -Jenny Antill Related Content
Score Comment Date The promotion promised so much; a love story, fairies and magic, music and mayhem. This is where there should be a but. But the but is that there is no but. Finding Neverland delivers all of that in spades.
Harvey Weinstein declared Leicester Curve to be the only theatre outside London technically capable of bringing to the stage his story of J M Barrie’s creation of Peter Pan. To be honest I would think he will have trouble transferring to most London stages without a deal of compromises.
Finding Neverland takes advantage of every single technological trick that Curve can offer; the floor of the stage must look like Spaghetti Junction with all the slots for moving furniture, props and scenery. The huge spaces above the stage and to the side are put to great use. The flying rigs, though sparsely used, are very effective and, in the finale, bring a lump to the throat of even the most hardened theatre goer.
Finding Neverland is, like the film, the story of JM Barrie’s love affair with Sylvia Llewleyn Davies and her sons. This burgeoning relationship rekindled Barrie’s writing and led to the creation of his most enduring play, Peter Pan.
Grabbing one of the last tickets available I found myself in a midweek matinee. It was announced that the principles were to be played by their understudies but, to be honest, we would never have known if we hadn’t been told, such were the professional performances we saw. Settling down in a sold out house, the gentle waft of Werthers drifted up the stalls as the clatter of walking sticks being stowed for the duration faded and the curtain rose to a large set of the outside of the Duke Of York Theatre. Barrie’s latest play, an inexorable mess called The Wedding Guest, is failing before his eyes.
With admiral use of huge lumps of scenery sliding in and out and up and down, back projection, front projection and even animation the story of James and Sylvia’s romance unfolds until, ending the first half, a gigantic pirate ship lurches, 3D-like, towards the audience in one of many fantasy sequences of Barrie wrestling with his inner self.
There were precious little half time sales as the majority of the audience didn’t dare to consume anything for fear of not making it through to the end or maybe finding their seats again.
The second half got off to a roaring start with a full sized veteran car bowling along through the countryside and Barrie, with Capt Hook as his imaginary nemesis (cue lots of swashbuckling and energetic scene climbing), shaping his great adventure into the children’s favourite we all know and love.
The script, cleverly spreading the story out amongst all the cast members, making some cheeky references to modern events like the banking crisis and theatre critics along the way, climaxed with Barrie and the boys flying high after their mother’s death. The finale, re-using the kite motif of the first meeting of Barrie with his Lost Boys, is cleverly used to disguise the preparation for the flying finale.
Lots of very fast costume changes, coupled with amazing scene transformations, help create a filmic narrative on stage. Should this musical play ever make it to another stage then I urge you to see it.
Some critics have criticised this show for not having any hummable tunes but I think that is a benefit. It means the story is not overshadowed by one song. In this show the music carries the story along, it doesn’t stop it to showcase a singer.
© Paul Towers 2012 - Paul Towers 18 Oct 12 Heart wrenching story, superb cast and visually stunning. However, this musical is definitely not for young children as it deals with many adult issues and they may find some parts upsetting. - Anna 17 Oct 12 A gorgeous book and score delivered beautifully by the entire cast and wonderfully enhanced by the stunning set and lighting. The evening flew by (pun intended!) and fully deserved the standing ovation it recieved! I sincerely hope a West End transfer is on the cards. - JHP 17 Oct 12 Unlike many new musicals, Finding Neverland rejects an over-reliance on the spectacular. The first act may be deemed "slow", but its visual majesty and as of yet underestimated score shall provide Weinstein with a show that endures. - RKJP 17 Oct 12 Enjoyed the musical immensely! It seems so did the audience - standing ovation at the end! - Guru 16 Oct 12 First rate cast but for us,totally let down by the instantly forgettable score.Certainly not for kids of which there were many at today's matinee.Pleased to see Curve packed tho. - MC 13 Oct 12 Stunning production, superb company and sets. A joy to see. - Mark 12 Oct 12 Enjoyed this, but a massive flaw in that it's too dark for kids, but trying too hard to please the family market to be fully satisfying. Full review on my blog http://www.frontrowdress.com/2012/10/finding-neverland-leicester-curve.html - Front Row Dress 11 Oct 12 You didn't like it then! - Knight 05 Oct 12 Wow what a fantastic performance, I was actually moved to tears! - K. Haynes 29 Sep 12 The show was slow, fragmented, poorly written and at times bordering in insulting to the Peter Pan story, the Finding Neverland story and the audience. With no direction, conflicting scenes and no subtlety this is truly the worst musical i have ever seen written for idiots by a total Imbecile! - James Harris 27 Sep 12
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