There are times when embracing fantasy is the best way to deal with reality. Twentieth century Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie knew how to harness his imagination to create hope in both himself and others.
During a period of self-doubt, his friendship with a family having challenges of its own inspired one of the greatest stories ever told: Peter Pan. Barrie’s real-life journey is captured in the Broadway version of the 2004 Academy Award winning film Finding Neverland, coming to Bass Concert Hall on January 16-21.
Lael Van Keuren becomes Sylvia Llewelyn Davies each night, the mother of the four young boys who inspired Barrie to create Pan. She says that she loves the role because Sylvia "goes on such a journey, and as an actor that's incredibly fulfilling. Says Van Keuren, "Finding Neverland reminds you that if you can engage with your inner child again, incredible things can happen."
This is Van Keuren’s second time on this tour. She spent eight months in the ensemble and understudying Sylvia before being invited back to play the lead. “I was shocked because that doesn’t typically happen,” she explains. “This is my first time as a leading lady so it’s pretty exciting.”
Van Keuren stars opposite Billy Tighe (as Barrie), who last entertained Austin audiences as Elder Price during the 2015 Book of Mormon tour. Another notable in the cast is actor, singer and game show host John Davidson, who Van Keuren says brings incredible timing to the roles of Captain Hook and Charles Frohman.
When asked why folks should come see the production, Van Keuren says, "It’s not just a children’s show ... it is poignant. There’s something for everyone. And for me, it’s really special to do a show where you can engage with audiences of all ages. I love getting to do that because it doesn’t happen all the time.”
You too can find Neverland at Bass Concert Hall on The University Of Texas campus from January 16-21.