The fairy dust magic of the “Finding Neverland” musical has been an audience favorite on Broadway, and is on its first national tour, making a stop at the Durham Performing Arts Center May 23 through May 28.
The musical is the story of J.M. Barrie, the author who created the world of Peter Pan, and how he found that story. In “Finding Neverland,” Barrie is inspired by a family he meets — a widow, Sylvia, and her children. The character of Sylvia’s mother, with crocodile-style side eye, is Mrs. du Maurier, played by Karen Murphy.
Murphy joined the tour in early January during an ice storm, she said in a phone interview with The Herald-Sun. She hadn’t seen it in New York, but had read about it, seen pictures and knew some people in it, she said. She had also seen the 2004 movie starring Johnny Deep and Kate Winslet.
“I was just so thrilled to get a national tour, and I love touring, and I knew it was a nice part, a nice role, so I was excited,” Murphy said. “It’s wonderful to see America. If you don’t like touring, you don’t do it. Most people I know either enjoy or endure it because there are so many pluses.”
“Finding Neverland” the musical is the latest of many retellings of Barrie’s fictional creation, from the Disney animated film “Peter Pan” to the modern fairies movies and “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” television show, with all the toy tie-ins you’d expect from the products. But why does the idea of Neverland work?
“It’s the magic of Peter Pan, and that endures,” Murphy said. “We’re better than 100 years away from when the story was written, and it endures. People know it.”
“I think the show very successfully marries the mystique of Peter Pan and the man who wrote it. I mean, who ever thought of the man who wrote it?”
Murphy said “Finding Neverland” is a great draw for families, and kids love seeing other kids on stage. She said little girls come dressed up in costume and will wait at the stage door. Often “Finding Neverland” is a three-generation event, she said. Murphy always thanks them for coming and making the show a destination.
“It’s very satisying to give someone a memory, because that’s what we do. You know they’re leaving that night carrying around a memory,” she said.
Acting itself is so satisfying, she said. “It’s like recess on a spring afternoon, when you can’t wait to run outside. It’s fun,” Murphy said.
GO & DO
WHAT: “Finding Neverland”
WHEN: May 23-28
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham