(PCM) The timeless story of the boy who never wanted to grow up continues to capture family audiences on Broadway – during the holiday season and beyond.
“Finding Neverland,” follows the life of playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer, and the man, that he yearned to be.
Like most all of us in life, he sought inspiration, and he found it after meeting the beautiful widow, Sylvia, and her four young sons whom he immortalized: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. These four boys, and their irrepressible spirit, inspired the classic play, “Peter Pan,” also known as “The Boy Who Never Grew Up.”
Delighted by the hilarious escapades of these precious boys who are grieving the loss of their father, Barrie conjured the magical world of Neverland and wrote a play unlike anything else the high-society London theatergoers have ever seen. It’s a tremendous risk, but as Barrie himself has discovered— when you believe, you can fly.
The leading actors, Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) as J.M. Barrie, and Terrence Mann (The Dresden Files”), as Capt. James Hook, and the many child actors take audience members of all ages on a glorious journey in “Finding Neverland.”
The original musical was directed by Tony-Award winter Diane Paulus, (“Pippin” and “Hair”), with music and lyrics by Gary Barlow (“Take That”) and Grammy-winner Eliot Kennedy, book by Olivier Award nominee James Graham, and choreography by Emmy Award-winner Mia Michaels (“So You Think You Can Dance,”).
“Finding Neverland,” is packed with mesmerizing visuals, irresistible songs and plenty of laughs, is a timeless story about the power of imagination… and spectacular proof that you never really have to grow up…if you find the pixie dust in life.
Finding Neverland started as a 2004 movie about Barrie. The movie was nominated for several Oscars, and starred Johnny Depp, Dustin Hoffman and Kate Winslet. The film was adapted as a stage musical in 2012.
In the Broadway show, 13-year-old Casey Butler stars as George, one the boys in this role. “I just love the magic that it makes,” he said, “and how it makes the audience feel they have a charming experience when they come to see the show.”
Casey started rehearsals in June and his Broadway debut was on July 4, and easily calls it “one of the best days of his life.” Thinking back, he said, it was incredible, “because everyone in the cast was so unbelievably supportive, so nice and really happy for me. It felt really great to perform in front of 1500 people on Broadway, an awesome feeling.”
Before he stepped into the Broadway role, Casey said he truly loved the story of Peter Pan. “I love the story; it is such a great fun story. I love all the characters – especially the dynamic between Capt. Hook and Snead.”
During a recent chat, Casey spoke about his inspirations, family, career and more.
Q: Would you say that the cast is like a second family since you spend so much time together?
CASEY BUTLER: Hmmm. A second family? I guess. I can say that they are just unbelievable supportive. It is really the nicest bunch of people you’ve ever met. If anyone has any issues we feel we are all in this together. There is no back stage drama. It is a fun, and joyful experience.
Q: Were there any surprises involved in being in a Broadway musical?
CB: Yes, how much harder juggling the show and everything else in my life – but it’s definitely worth it.
Q: Were there any other surprises?
CB: Just seeing how great the dynamic is to be performing with everyone in the cast. My experience is in regional theater in Florida, so I have never been in anything else on this scale. It is truly so dynamic and off the charts.
Q: Did you do any research of the story of Peter Pan or J.M. Barrie?
CB: A little. There isn’t a lot of information about these boys, but there is a little bit they didn’t put in the show, and it’s really interesting.
Q: Do you want this for your career?
CB: Yes, definitely it is what I want to do. I love performing and telling a story.
Q: What are you most proficient in – acting, dancing or singing?
CB: I love doing all three. This is my fifth year dancing. I started acting and singing a long time ago. My father is a professor of theater at Palm Beach Atlantic University, in Jupiter, Florida. My mother is the director of education at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. So I’ve been surrounded by this magic my entire life.
Q: How do you balance school and being a child with being a Broadway actor?
CB: We alternate the roles — the boys aren’t allowed to perform in all 8 shows each week. When I am on stand by I do a lot of homework. I also find time throughout the day to do homework. I like to stay focused on school; I know that it’s important.
Q: Your favorite subjects?
CB: I really like history and science.
Q: When you have any free time how do you spend it?
CB: Reading comics, watching TV or playing video games. Also, resting. In the show we are pretty crazy so having down time to rest is important to me.
Q: What is it like working with Matthew Morrison and Terrence Mann?
CB: Both of them inspire me to pursue this. I have sort of learned with them and everyone in the cast how the business works, and that has been a big inspiration to me.
Q: Who were you excited about seeing you in the show?
CB: My friends from Florida, and around the country. They are always excited to see me and catch the show. They are really excited that the show has been such an incredible success. My parents have seen the show a few times. They still live in Florida and they come up often to stay with me. They are extremely supportive of my dreams.
Q: What is it like living with a nanny in New York?
CB: It’s fine. I know it’s a different kind of lifestyle, but it works for us. I text them and talk on the phone with them every day, and when they come up we bond even more than we did in Florida.
Q: What do you love about this time of year?
CB: Everything. This show is perfect for the holidays. It is a family-friendly and fits so well with this magical time of year. If you have the opportunity, you can double up on the magic and have a great time with the people you love.
Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street in Manhattan).
For tickets or more information, go to: www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com, or call Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929 or in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office, located at 205 West 46th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenues.