“We can fly if we want to; I promise that faith will give you wings. Just take the second star on the right, straight ahead till morning light.”
The story of Peter Pan is iconic, filled with pirates, mermaids, fairies, and most of all, magic. I grew up watching the animated Disney version so often that the VHS tape was slowly deteriorating. Robin Williams soon owned the role of Peter Pan in “Hook”, where kids now scream “bangarang” in honor of it, followed by a slew of new adaptions, from the big screen to television to the stage.
For some reason these stories inspired me. Never grow up. All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust. To die would be an awfully big adventure. Quotes like these are ingrained in my memory. With all these versions, it was inevitable for some version to hit the stage once more and I couldn’t be happier that it was “Finding Neverland”.
The New York City skyline came into view as the bus taking us to the show turned a corner before entering the Lincoln Tunnel. I turned my head, seeing my mom sitting next to me while my sister and nephew were across the aisle. I was concerned having a 6 year old sit for two and a half hours watching a play on stage, but my sister insisted he could do it (and I was very shocked when it ended and he had sat quietly through the entire stage show). The Lunt-Fontanne Theater came into view, the iconic poster of Peter Pan’s outline with the London skyline and silhouettes of J.M. Barrie and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies inside.
The show opens with entrance applause as a bright light traveled to the curtain, obviously representing Tinkerbell. The curtain finally opens to the Scottish-born J.M. Barrie, a successful playwright suffering from writer’s block and an unhappy marriage. Then one day in Kensington Gardens he meets four charming little boys, the Llewelyn Davies brothers, and excitedly joins in their games of pretend, later expressing that “the world is so mysterious and wild/when you start to see it through the eyes of a child.” Sylvia, a widow mother to those boys with a sickening cough, drifts closer to Barrie telling him “I think to have faith is to have wings” – which made my mom and sister stare at me as I have that quote tattooed on my shoulder.
The show was inspirational and dazzling. Lighting by candlelight showed shadows against the walls, growing and shrinking as Sylvia and Barrie move. Pirates emerged from the back of the theater, walking towards the front, and before I could blink netting was rising as they began to climb up and swing viciously to the song “Live By The Hook.”
As Barrie’s play opened, Sylvia could not attend due to her sickness. Instead, the play was brought to her. As she walked to center stage, fans emerged and Peter Pan slid between them. Pixie dust started swirling around Sylvia in a beautiful mass of sparkles.
The music varied in genre, ranging from typical Broadway sounds to Irish bagpipes to lullabies singing the children to sleep. Songs like “Circus Of Your Mind,” “Live By The Hook,” and “Stronger” were more upbeat, loud, and a little harsh while “What You Mean To Me,” “Neverland,” and “When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground” were sweet and soft.
“Finding Neverland” astounded and created real magic right in front of your eyes. As I turned my head to look at my nephew as Tink’s light was going out, he began clapping his hands to bring her back to life. It was inspirational to see him believe so hard in something that I grew up with. “Finding Neverland is a play worth going to see, though it leaves Broadway on August 21.
Sometimes I wish to find myself in Neverland, but for now, I’ll just keep looking for that second star on the right until then.