"Finding Neverland" Takes the Iconic Magical World to the Big Stage

Jessica Deyo

Peter Pan made his Athens debut Tuesday during the National Broadway Tour of “Finding Neverland.”

The play, directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus, was performed at the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium and told the story of how the classic tale, Peter Pan, came to be.

The story began in 20th century London and introduces the audience to Playwright J.M. Barrie, who struggles to find inspiration for his next show. Barrie meets Sylvia Davies, a recent widow, and her four rambunctious children who immediately immerse him in a world of childhood fantasies and imagination.

Audience member Bobbi Conliffe feels the children reminded her of her own childhood adventures, like making forts from bed sheets.

“I’m afraid I didn't have nearly such an adventurous childhood as these kids,” Conliffe says. “But I very much identify with the (imagination]) aspect of it, because that’s where all my adventures came from.” 

Barrie, who is overwhelmed with what is expected from him in both his professional and personal life, counters the struggles of adulthood and eventually creates Neverland, a world where children never grow up, fairies freely roam and gravity is defied.

The imaginary world is brought to life with colorful backdrops, elaborate costumes and swirls of pixie dust that inspire ordinary characters to live creatively. 

Berry Dilley, an audience member and former dance instructor, fell in love with the creativity behind Neverland and wishes to experience it for herself.

“I tend to want to be in the show and be apart of the imagination,” Dilley says. “I can begin to feel myself embody the situation.”

“Finding Neverland” is based off the award-winning film with the same name, but Conliffe, who has enjoyed both the movie and the show, believes the show has unique features that set it apart.

“The presentation is quite different, and you don’t really get inside James Barrie’s head [in the movie] the same way you do here,” Conliffe says. “It’s amazing.”