‘Finding’ something new in twist on classic


Kiley Duggan

"Finding Neverland" filled the stage April 17-18 at the Civic Center in Amarillo.

Aimless conversations accompany the orchestra warming up in the pit. Suddenly the lights dim, the crowd quiets and a small tinkling accompanies the little yellow light flying across the curtains. As the music begins to play, the curtain opens to reveal beloved characters from Peter Pan. They fly across the stage fighting pirates and admiring fairies until a man halts them in their paths and begins to narrate the story before the story.

“Finding Neverland,” a story based on true events of the creation of “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie, was performed at the Amarillo Civic Center auditorium April 17-18.

Coming into the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My immediate thoughts were, of course, Peter Pan. I naturally assumed that was the story I would see. When the show began, I was  surprised as I watched the dancers show me exactly what I was getting with this new take on the legend of Neverland.

The story begins in bustling 1904 London. Successful playwright James Barrie has a case of writer’s block. In the midst of potentially losing his career, James meets widow Sylvia Davies and her four sons George, Peter, Jack and Michael. They all join together in several wild adventures of imagination in Kensington Park … well, all except for Peter. James takes it upon himself to teach Peter how to play again, and through this experience his writer’s block gives way. James discovers a whole new kind of theater: children’s theater. The experienced actors who perform his plays are skeptical of this new type of theater, thinking doing this would ruin the reputation of the theater and themselves. However, Barrie persists in showing the performers the true value of children’s theater and how it can be enjoyed by every age.

Barrie persists in showing the performers the true value of children’s theater.

— Kiley Duggan, 10

Throughout the show, the acting was believable. In the course of the story, J.M. Barrie, played by Jeff Sullivan, experiences changing emotions. With so many changes, Sullivan was impressive showed a full range of emotion through his character arc. The other characters did a wonderful job as well. The mother of the young boys and Barrie’s love interest Sylvia Davies, played by Ruby Gibbs, is a fun-loving mother whose dream is to give her children the world they create for themselves, and Gibbs did just that. On the other hand, one of the sons of Sylvia Davis, Peter, though very young, was also important character to the storyline. In this particular show, his acting was unconvincing for such an important part of the story. Overall, the supporting and main actors were very good and portrayed their characters well.

The sets in the show were creative and worked easily for multiple scenes. The production displayed the themes and symbolism through the use of the set and different props well. More than anything else in the show, I was most impressed by the choreography. From smooth ballet to sharp contemporary moves, the choreography was excellent. It was easy to tell the cast had worked a great deal on the execution of the dance moves.

Throughout the entire show, the music was fun, entertaining and thematic. It was the type of music, where the moment you get in your car you turn it on to listen again. From the shenanigans of “We own the Night,” to the flights of “Circus of Your Mind” and the romance of “What You Mean to Me,” the music moved the audience and communicated the feelings of the characters so audience could connect on a deeper level.

Audience interactions gave the show depth and humor not always seen in other shows.

— Kiley Duggan, 10

From the first opening of the curtain to the standing ovation, the audience was put into the world the play created for us, and audience interactions gave the show depth and humor not always seen in other shows.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play. Going into it, I did not know anything except for the implied. When the show began, I was interested and found my bearings with the story quickly. This is truly a show for all ages, young and old.