Omaha Performing Arts

By: Leah Parodi

Finding Neverland is the smash Broadway musical based on the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name and the play; The Man Who Was Peter Pan.   Finding Neverland, the musical, follows the relationship between playwright and creator of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, and the family behind the inspiration of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Finding Neverland is directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus with music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Grammy Award winner Eliot Kennedy.  The choreography is by Emmy Award winner Mia Michaels of Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium fame.  The incredible talent behind this musical, in addition to the powerful and mesmerizing visuals, moving songs and talented cast will give audiences a spectacular new experience about a timeless and classic tale.

Finding Neverland tells the beautiful story about the creation of one of our most beloved literary characters; Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie, a playwright, was looking for inspiration and found it when he met four young brothers and their widowed mother. Charmed and enthralled by the boy’s make-believe play, Barrie wrote a play for the London Theater which eventually became the classic tale known and loved by so many.

Finding Neverland takes audiences on a magical journey to a wondrous land where childhood never ends by blending the real life of Barrie with the land and characters he created.  And what’s more, this heartwarming story will inspire theatergoers to see that nothing is impossible if you follow your dreams and have just a little faith, trust and pixie dust.

Bringing all the enchanting and delightful Finding Neverland characters to life is a talented cast which includes John Davidson in the role of Captain James Hook.  Davidson, as many may recall, was the host of television’s Hollywood Squares and That’s Incredible.  Davidson has plenty of stage success in shows such as Wicked and Oklahoma!  And joining Davidson on stage, in the pivotal role of J.M. Barrie, is Billy Harrigan Tighe.

Tighe, a delightful and very talented young man, has plenty of stage experience and is thrilled to be in Finding Neverland.  Tighe graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BFA in Musical Theater.  He has been in the National Tours of The Book of Mormon, Wicked and Dirty Dancing.  Tighe has shined as a Vocal Soloist with symphonies including the Cincinnati POPS, Indianapolis, Houston, Toronto and Vancouver symphony orchestras.

Tighe found himself immersed in music at an early age quite by accident.  As the son of a father in the Air Force, he said that his family moved a lot and music was the one constant for him.  “It was a common thing for us to be in Church Choir, thanks to my mom,” said Tighe.  “That led me to choir in school.  In the 8th grade I met the conductor of the Honor Chorus for a performing arts school who helped me find a place where I belonged and also find my voice.  I finally felt that I might be good at something.”  Tighe added that once he saw his first live musical as a student, he discovered his passion and became completely obsessed.

Today, Tighe is enjoying success performing as J.M. Barrie on the National Tour of Finding Neverland.  And he is accompanied by his wife; Kristine Reese who plays Mary Barrie, the wife of Tighe’s character. “Working with my wife is great fun.  We have each been on six tours, twelve collectively, and this the first time working together. We wanted to do this for so long and to be together and travel the world together is amazing.”

Tighe has such a passion for the story behind Finding Neverland and is enjoying sharing this magical experience with audiences of all ages.  “For me, the focus, the story, is about Barrie’s moment-to-moment journey.  I focus on the small journey of who he is, the art inside him.  His story surprises people.”

Tighe said that intermixed with the beautiful and charming story of Peter Pan’s real-life inception is the fantasy world that is going on in Barrie’s mind.  “In an instant, you see Barrie’s thoughts as Peter Pan comes soaring overhead.  And we get to see the appearance of Captain Hook come from a mundane moment.  We get to see these incredible characters come to life through Barrie’s mind’s eye.  To me it’s so magical to gets inside his head.”

Adding to an already exciting story are special effects, the likes of which will blow audiences away.  “This production has all the big Broadway Blockbuster show tricks; lighting, projections, flying and a glitter vortex that will take your breath away. But what makes the effects so awesome is that they come out of the story, to express what is going on in story.  This story is about imagination and creativity, turning mundane into magic.  An ordinary bench becomes a great pirate ship and the effects are magnificent.”

Audiences will also be mesmerized by a tremendous musical score and sensational choreography.  “The music and dancing is so great and a beautiful contradiction as the story takes place in early 1900’s yet the dance is modern and the music has a British Pop sound.  They make the story fit modern times and that truly reflects Barrie who felt he lived in a time period he wasn’t supposed to be in.”

Tighe said that audiences are made up of families, adults and those adults who won’t grow up.  “There are a lot of great things that resonate with the audience and that’s where we put our energy.  Our focus allows people to have new experiences with Peter Pan and the story, we get deeper into it.”   Tighe added that kids will love the adventure and adults will love the messages within the show.  “The metaphors are meaningful for adults and for me it is amazing to see how this story resonates so clearly; find your voice, follow your dreams.  That is a testament to what J.M. Barrie created and I am honored to tell his story.”

Finding Neverland will soar into the Orpheum Theater (409 South 16th Street) from Wednesday, October 11, 2017 through Sunday, October 15, 2017.  Please note that there will not be a Tuesday evening performance of this production. Tickets start at $35 and may be purchased online at TicketOmaha.com, at the Ticket Omaha Box Office inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas Street or by calling (402) 345-0606. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information visit www.TicketOmaha.com