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SAN JOSE, CA –“FINDING NEVERLAND” may be described as  a nusical mind’s  journey that can transport the audience to different facets of the adults’ world, among them work, love,   frustrations, and a broken heart, interwoven with facets  of the  children’s world, a world populated by mermaids, Indians, pirates, and a tiny sparkling  sensitive fairy, called Tinker Bell,  that needs to be reassured, with hand claps from the audience, that they believe in her.  

The story of  “FINDING NEVERLAND”   was first created and presented  in the Academy-Awards winner  “Historical Fantasy” a drama-film of the same name written by DAVID MAGEE. Later presented as FINDING NEVER LAND a film, it earned several nominations at the 77th Academy Awards, including Best picture, and Best Actor for JOHNNY DEPP, for his portrayal of J.M. BARRIE.

The Book for the musical, however, used the film's name, but its story is based on the script of the play “The man who was Peter Pan” which was based on the book, written by ALLAN  KNEE, which relates the life of   the Scottish playwright,  J. M. BARRIE, the creator of "The boy who would never grew up," during the years that BARRIE was having a platonic relationship with Sylvia Jewelyn Davis, a widow and the mother of Jack, Peter, Michael and George. four children.

The musical's story begins when playwright J.M. Barrie, (WILL RAY) is feeling very frustrated because his previous play was a failure when it was presented, and he has been asked to write another  play for his producer Charles Frohman (JOHN DAVIDSON). He does not know it yet, but his new play is going to be “Peter Pan,” a story that Barrie will start creating in his mind, after he learns to “see” the world, through the  the eyes of four children.

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Left, LAEL  Van KEUREN  as (Sylvia Llewelyn Davis) and  WILL RAY as  J.M.Barrie  (center) sit on a Park bench  with her  four  children holding balloons

He finds the inspiration for his new play, by chance, while sitting at a bench on the park one morning trying to write, and being interrupted by four noisy children playing indians and pirats. Through the children, and trying to control them, he later meets their young beautiful  mother,  Sylvia Llewelyn Davis, (LAEL VAN KEUREN) The four young actors who played the children on Press Opening night were:  Peter (CONNOR JAMESON CASEY) George (COLIN WHEELER) Jack (BERGMAN FREEDMAN) and Mike TYLER PATRICK HENNESSY)

As Barrie continues observing these children at play, his mind begins creating a complete different play than the one he was trying to write. In this new play, he uses the for children and their mother and mix them with his memories his brother. who had died as a little boy. Barrie’s mother worshiped that little boy and his memory remained with her for the rest of her life, In his new play Barrie, made that little boy Peter Pan, "a boy who never grew up"

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One of the things that makes FINDING NEVERLAND  the musical,  with book by JAMES GRAHAM, outstanding, are the music and lyrics by GARY BARLOW & ELIOT KENNEDY, every song  fits perfectly the character who is singing it, making it a musical that is meant for children and for adults. Because while the story, of FINDING NEVERLAND may be populated  by  fictional characters, starting with Peter Pan a cocky boy who can fly, but is clumsy enough to lose “his shadow” and needs Wendy (MARY KATE HARTUNG) to sew it on his back And while the story of the musical is a “fantasy” populated by fantastic characters, its plot  has a deep philosophy,  

It is at a Low moment  in Barrie's (RAY) life, when he is feeling defeated as a playwright because nobody in the theatre, including his producer, likes Peter Pan, that the character of Captain Hook (ANTHONY FESTA) “jumps from the page of the book where he is writing the story, into the mind” and starts calling him “Coward”  He informs Barrie that  he (Hook)  is really “his darker side,” the one. we all have. that prefers to live in the shadows and hide. At sword point, he orders Barrie  to stop living by the book (which means agreeing with everybody) and live by the hook  (Meaning fight for what he believes in) if he ever wants to escape from the repressing  Edwardian England of his time.

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To have faith is to have wings” the real playwright Barrie wrote later in his notes. And in the musical “FINDING NEVERLAND”  it is only after BARRIE uses his imaginary wings and starts flying like Peter Pat after regaining his faith in himself as a playwright, that  PETER PAN, (The play that everybody   had qualified as “crazy,” becomes a great success.

In his role as Barrie, WILL RAY  “lived”  the character on stage. He acted naturally at all times, not only while playing with the children, but later on, when he faced his tragedy with honor.And he sang well every one of his songs. Another great performance  on that night was given by VAN KEUREN, in her role of  young mother Sylvia. Not for a second did she let us detect that she was “acting.” And her singing voice was lovely.

And we need to add that each one of those five little children, was talented, and all show  it  when trying to encourage Barrie singing: “You can be anything you wanna be, You can go anywhere you wanna see. A little hard work and you can do it. Faith will get you through it. You gotta believe. We ‘re all made of stars We are all made of dreams, No matter who you are.”

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On its  Press opening night, at the S.J. Centre for the Performing Arts, “The acting Troupe”  of  “FINDING NEVER LAND” gave the audience a professional. performance.  Not surprisingly, they received a long Standing ovation.

FINDING NEVERLAND, is magical, .but for each one of us to find the magic in “Neverland” we first need to learn to “see” the world, through the eyes of a child.

FINDING NEVERLAND will be shown at THE SAN JOSE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 255 S Almaden Blvd. in S.J. until April 22.  For tickets you can go online to www.broadwaysanjose.com or order by phone by calling: (800) 982-2787.