Arts
12:29 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Arts This Week: Neverland, 4000 Miles And The Giver

Jeremy Jordan as J. M. Barrie and Laura Michelle Kelly as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland.
Jeremy Jordan as J. M. Barrie and Laura Michelle Kelly as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland.
Credit Evgenia Eliseeva / http://americanrepertorytheater.org/

I don't have enough thumbs to raise in appreciation for the new Finding Neverland. It was no surprise to receive their official announcement yesterday: this show is bound for Broadway. Be sure to catch it while you can and see the incredible Jeremy Jordan, who is sure to pick up awards for this performance.

Finding Neverland, Plays at the American Repertory Theater through September 28th.

Jeremy Jordan stars in the wonderfully delivered, real-life story of faltering playwright James Matthew Barrie and the inspiration he discovers through a new friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family. Out of his wild playtime adventures with the widow Davies and her four boys, Barrie conceives of the revolutionary 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.

Staged by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus, this new musical, based on the film written by David Magee, explores the power of imagination to open up new worlds, as well as the pressures put upon those worlds by the prospect of growing up.

Laura Michelle Kelly plays the widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. She talked with me at length about the childish magic in Barrie’s work and world, and how it saved him and the Davies family from despair.

“The best way to deal with tragedy is to get in touch with your inner child. Knowing from personal experience, when you remember what it was like to be young and free, sometimes it’s really challenging to get back to that innocence when your life’s been colored by things that are painful. And I think it’s a good lesson for most people is that, here’s a door, and here’s how you can get back there,” Kelly said.

4000 Miles, Plays at Gloucester Stage Company through August 17th.

In this very interesting and novel work, Nancy Carroll continues to astound audiences. She plays the feisty, 91-year-old grandmother Vera who takes in 21-year-old Leo as he seeks solace from a major loss he experienced while on a cross-country bike trip. Together in Vera's West Village apartment in New York City, these unlikely roommates infuriate, bewilder, and ultimately reach each other.

The Giver, In Theaters Friday

Jonas is a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment, but as he begins to spend time with The Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, questions begin to form about what really makes up his community. A "Giver" is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, kept from others to ensure a happy society, and as he learns these memories, Jonas begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of a secret past. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape this world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. The play is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, a winner of the 1994 Newberry Medal. Having never experienced the enjoyment of the book as a young person, I met with Lowry in her New England home and asked her more about the premise.

“I was living on Beacon Hill at the time, looking out my window, and I actually made a list of all the things that troubled the world then," Lowry told me. "I got rid of them, one by one, ticked them off the list. There’s no poverty, there’s no crime, there’s no divorce, there’s no alcohol, there are no drugs, there are no cars. And so I made it gradually into the most peaceful, content, comfortable kind of world, tried to seduce the reader into thinking what a great world that would be, and then introduced the underbelly.”

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