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Finding Neverland Explores JM Barrie's World Before There Was a Peter Pan

Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook in Finding Neverland
Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook in Finding Neverland
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
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In The Book of Mormon, actor Billy Harrigan Tighe was in what he calls "a really heightened adult comedy satire." His 19-year-old character was doing a lot of questioning of his previous religious beliefs and on the threshold of starting or re-starting his life.

Accepting a lead role as J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, in the national tour of Finding Neverland was another creature entirely. "For me it was an opportunity to dive into something that was different than what I had just done previously," he says.

Scottish author J.M. Barrie meets a widowed mother and her four boys in Kensington Gardens and forms a lasting friendship with them. He becomes a companion to the Davies boys and incorporates his adventures with them into the play about the boy who never grows up.

The musical, inspired by the 2004 movie of the same name, is on its way to Houston courtesy of BBVA Compass Broadway at the Hobby. In the national touring cast, Tighe says he likes his character “for what he inspires in others.”

He also identifies with him to a certain extent since as an actor who gets paid to appear onstage for two hours at a time, “In a lot of ways I’m sort of feeling like a kid who’s never grown up.”

In some ways it’s like old home week for Tighe since Christine Dwyer (playing mother Sylvia Llewelyn Davies) was Elphaba to his Fiyero in a production of Wicked. "This is really fun for us. It's been an awesome opportunity to get to explore a different relationship on stage. There's a level of trust and understanding when you work with someone for a long period of time, and to get to do it again is really great."

As for the travel involved in a national tour, Tighe calls it "a mixed bag." On one hand, he gets to see so many cities he'd never been to before. "But I don't get to see my wife as much as I would like," he says.

Even without the Peter Pan aspect, this musical attracts audiences drawn by its focus on relationships, Tighe says. “It illuminates the importance that people have in each other’s lives.”

Performances are scheduled for April 25-30 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $30-$150.

And, of course, there has to be a dog. Bailey (understudy) , Bill Berloni and Sammy (Porthos) from the national tour of Finding Neverland.
And, of course, there has to be a dog. Bailey (understudy) , Bill Berloni and Sammy (Porthos) from the national tour of Finding Neverland.
Photo by KSP Images

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