“Finding Neverland” Plays At The Fabulous Fox Theatre In St. Louis

 In Culture, Feature

You know how hard it can be to take kids anywhere.

Well, you get a 30-minute grace period with “Finding Neverland.” Nearly every essential plot development comes after the 30-minute mark in the show, thanks to librettist James Graham. You and your whole tribe can march down the aisle a half-hour late and still get to your seats with your heads held high, because you won’t have missed a single thing. Therefore, it’s a perfect introduction to the stage for kids; and the Fox is always awesome no matter your age.

“Finding Neverland” is set in 1903-1904 London and follows successful playwright J.M. Barrie as he searches for a new script. Kevin Kern (as Barrie) is a remarkable singer, and the two women in his life are played by fine actresses, Crystal Kellogg and Christine Dwyer. Their ballads are not particularly noteworthy (by composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy), but there are two or three great songs in the show, overall.

That 30-minute grace period ends when a gaggle of four young boys descend upon a very stuffy dinner party, and that’s when “Finding Neverland” really begins. But if you and your brood do manage to arrive at the Fox on time, there are still funny dancers, a real-life dog and a dancing bear to carry you all the way up to that point. And, for the grown-ups, Tom Hewitt is an outstanding curmudgeon as the theatrical producer Charles Frohman.

That dinner is when we become caught up in an exciting comic tango, where J.M. Barrie befriends the boy who becomes the inspiration for Peter Pan (played by Eli Tokash on opening night here). The show gets stronger after intermission, with one of the best songs sung by Mr. Tokash and the other three boys: “We’re All Made Of Stars,” with a great “Mersey Beat” feeling to it, featuring actors Finn Faulcon, Mitchell Wray and Jordan Cole on opening night at the Fox.

After Peter Pan reaches its own opening night, “Finding Neverland” culminates in a symbolic death scene that really does take your breath away, as one of the key characters finds beauty and hope at the end of life. The moment creates a stunning display of stagecraft, and that’s when even a grown-up can fall in love with theater all over again.

“Finding Neverland” is playing at the Fox through Dec. 18, 2016.

For children, consider balcony seating as the sight-lines are better.

Top photo of “Finding Neverland” touring cast by Carol Rosegg.
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