“But what I say is true
You’ll be amazed”
I saw, and rather liked, the musical of Finding Neverland when it premiered in Leicester back in 2012 but given the extreme redevelopment it underwent thanks to Harvey Weinstein’s involvement, the show that opened on Broadway in 2015 was substantially different. A new bookwriter (James Graham), a new lyricist (Eliot Kennedy) and a new composer (Gary Barlow) were brought onboard for a near complete overhaul.
And I have to admit to having had the Original Broadway Cast Recording on my to-listen-to list ever since it was released, the involvement of Mr Barlow not having the immediate attraction that it would to, say, my elder sister ;-). But more fool me, for having given it a spin, I tumbled instantly for its charms, hitting the replay button on several of the songs and declaring it one of my most favourite cast albums I’ve listened to this year.
Key to its success is Barlow’s way with a tune, and none more so than the killer melody of ‘When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground’, a gorgeous duet coming late on in the second act which demonstrates a compositional nous (which isn’t always there in The Girls) which is pure musical theatre at its best. Matthew Morrison’s JM Barrie and Aidan Gemme’s Peter each deliver their sections beautifully but the final chorus when they combine is just heavenly, full of yearning and narrative development, and perfectly reprised in the show’s finale.
It’s not the only cracker on here. Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly’s romantic duet on ‘What You Mean To Me’, the twisted fairytale sound of ‘Circus Of Your Mind’ (Kelsey Grammer and Carolee Carmello on fine form), the stirring balladry of ‘Stronger’ (which is basically ‘Rule The World’ Part II but in what world would that be a problem!). Thoroughly enchanting, romantic and moving, I’m a complete convert and am now very much looking forward to when Finding Neverland finally arrives back in the UK.