A.R.T.’s ‘Finding Neverland’ will bring out your inner child

"Finding Neverland" at A.R.T. Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva
Learning to fly proves a bit harder for the adults than the children.
Credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

Check your grown-up baggage at the door of the American Repertory Theater for their latest production, the world premier of “Finding Neverland.” This tale of J.M. Barrie’s writing of “Peter Pan” is definitely worth seeing through the eyes of a child.

There’s pirates, Captain Hook, a few killjoys, a dog and a dinner party any kid would love to attend. There’s also an emotionally-charged journey that’ll leave you giddy with exhilaration from the highs and fighting back tears from the lows.

Director Diane Paulus has assembled an extraordinary creative team that makes it all look like kids’ play. The British pop sounds of Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and the stunning contemporary choreography of Mia Michaels (of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame) make it feel fresh and new, though the story takes place in Victorian times.

The imperious attitude of the buffoonishly high-brow acting troupe being forced to lower their standards and perform “Peter Pan” is responsible for much of the show’s humor. It also feels like a bit of a playful jab at the stodgy old guard at the A.R.T. who would’ve likely balked at such wonderfully family-friendly musical theater in days gone by.

Jeremy Jordan delivers a charming, vocally impressive turn as J.M. Barrie. Carolee Carmello is perfection as Mrs. Du Maurier, and Laura Michelle Kelly’s stellar work as Syliva Llewelyn Davies boasts a gut-wrenching, yet beautiful exit.

“Neverland” is heading to Broadway and persnickety theatergoers are already discussing what needs to be changed before it gets there. If you embrace the magic of this enchanting journey, you’ll be so busy enjoying it you won’t even care.

Melanie Moore, season eight winner of “So You Think You Can Dance,” is part of the ensemble, but when she becomes Peter Pan she takes center stage and you get a glimpse of her incredible dancing.

If you go

“Finding Neverland”
through September 28th
Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge
$25 – $95
www.americanrepertorytheater.org



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