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Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer Open in ‘Finding Neverland’ on Broadway: REVIEW

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BY NAVEEN KUMAR

The plot of Finding Neverland, a new musical that opened on Broadway last night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, doesn’t promise many surprises. Google can tell you that (spoiler alert!) J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan, and that by the end of this story, he’s going to do it. But, you may be surprised to discover that this adaptation (for which more than one beloved story has lit the path) could lose its way quite like this.

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (3)There’s the proven affection for its source material — and not just for the much-celebrated 2004 movie by David Magee (or the much lesser-known play on which it’s based, The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee), but for the boy — or, more often, young woman — in the green tights. (Hey, didn’t we just see her on TV?) And, there are the pedigrees of nearly everyone involved, including the film’s producer Harvey Weinstein (in his first theatrical effort), Tony-winning director Diane Paulus, and stage and screen stars Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer, among many others.

The movie’s quietly imaginative story, about Barrie finding inspiration for the play in his relationship with a widow and her young boys, is scaled out for the stage with a book by James Graham, and amplified with middling pop musical stylings. The score, written by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, the songwriting duo whose success stories include the UK group Take That (of which Barlow is a current member and Robbie Williams a former one), has moments of cleverness, but far more moments of unabashed cheese. The act one finale shares its title refrain with anthems by both Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears. (Quick: Name that tune!)

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (1)Morrison, late of TV’s Glee and terrific when last on Broadway in South Pacific, is honey-voiced as ever, though he makes the business of playing make-believe seem quite sober; rather than a boy who never wishes to grow up, he is unequivocally the dispassionate adult in the room. As Barrie’s producer, on the other hand, Grammer seems to harbor an inner smile behind every stern phrase, even when he’s acting the sourpuss. (His turn as Captain Hook will almost certainly conjure up Christopher Walken flashbacks, and, yes, they even lob him a Cheers pun.)

But its marquee stars are just two of the many elements on stage that seem to have wandered in willy-nilly from different shows in the neighborhood. Evidence of Paulus’ imaginative hand — responsible for acclaimed recent productions of challenging (if proven) musicals like Pippin and Hair — is occasionally evident, and one glittering moment of stage magic knocks the air from the room. But the production’s madcap tone rarely coheres (in this respect, Mia Michaels’ strange and spasmodic choreography seems bizarrely appropriate).

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (2)The danger of trudging up familiar stories is not just coming off as unoriginal (with so many layers of adaptation going on here, that was a given), but ringing cliché — which Finding Neverland does at nearly every turn. The musical’s frequent allusions to Peter Pan more often serve as punch lines or cues for audience purrs than compelling points along the way to the play’s writing. Whether the 9 million viewers who watched the live telecast of Peter, Hook and the Darling clan a few months back enjoyed every minute or squirmed in their seats and found it hackneyed — they didn’t have to shell out the price of a Broadway ticket to do it.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: carol rosegg)


Towleroad EXCLUSIVE: Matt Bomer and Matthew Morrison in on '8'

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BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Towleroad has learned that Matt Bomer, star of the hit USA drama, White Collar, and Matthew Morrison, who plays Mr. Schuester on the popular show Glee, will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, respectively, at the March 3 west coast premier of Dustin Lance Black's play, 8, in Los Angeles. The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization sponsoring the plaintiffs' legal team in the federal challenge to Prop 8, could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this week, it was announced that George Clooney would be playing the part of attorney David Boies.

Black's 8, which already had a successful premier in New York, is based on the transcripts from the trial proceedings before Judge Vaughn Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now captioned, Perry v. Brown). As you will recall, Judge Walker declared Prop 8 unconstitutional, and we expect the Ninth Circuit to issue its ruling any day now. Stay tuned for news updates and legal analysis of the upcoming decision.


Watch: Matthew Morrison Was Once In A Gay Boy Band

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Matthew Morrison explained to Jay Leno that an obscure acting gig he booked several years ago on a Lisa Kudrow film titled Marci X was the gayest thing he's ever done in his life. What he's talking about, AFTER THE JUMP.

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News: James Franco, Matthew Morrison, Japan, Southwest Airlines

 road James Franco says goodbye to Twitter.

Mm  road Matthew Morrison tweets his new album cover.

 road Vanilla Ice to play a gay wedding coordinator in new movie alongside Adam Sandler.

 road Officials in Japan find crack in the pit of Fukushima plant's number two reactor: "With radiation levels rising in the seawater near the plant, we have been trying to confirm the reason why, and in that context, this could be one source."

 road Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly discuss Donald Trump.

 road Men survive avalanche in Colorado.

 road Listen: 911 call of tussle between Lindsay Lohan a Betty Ford staffer.

 road Zac Efron sculpts his facial hair.

Southwest  road Southwest Airlines cancels 300 flights so it can inspect planes for what it is calling "aircraft skin fatigue." Yesterday, a large hole opened up in the fuselage of one if its Boeing 737s. One flight attendant was injured in that incident.

 road Bill Maher believes Democrats should get tougher: "Republicans don't run from unpopular stances and they stand by their convictions. Stupid, ignorant, world-destroying convictions based on disproven economic fantasies, and ancient books filled with primitive morality and magic people, but convictions nonetheless."

 road Republican Scott Brown calls his won party “irresponsible.”

 road Supporters of Laurent Gbagbo suspected in massive slaughter in Ivory Coast: "...The United Nations said that more than 100 had been killed by Mr. Gbagbo’s fighters, while about 200 had been killed by forces loyal to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, the man recognized by the United Nations, the African Union and other international bodies as the winner of the presidential election last year."


News: Lady Gaga, Gay Cruise, Ron Paul, Jamaica, Egypt

 road Lady Gaga to give birth in music video for "Born This Way?"

Allue  road Drug bust on the "world's largest gay cruise."

 road Sign in UK causes outcry: "A hotel owner has caused uproar in his village after putting up a sign outside the building saying 'Poofters welcome here'. Mike Saqui meant the sign to be a pointed reference to the case where a Cornish B&B owner refused to let in gay couples. But many in his village in Hampshire's New Forest were left outraged and he was given a strong talking to by the police."

 road Marriage Equality supporters plan valentine's Day demonstration in San Francisco.

 road Looters stole 18 items from the Egyptian Museum during Egypt's recent social unrest.

 road Ron Paul wins the straw poll at CPAC.

 road Sarah Palin hires chief of staff of her political action committee.

Criss  road Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss and others attend Barbra Streisand tribute.

 road New Zealand Prime Minister John Key speaks at Big Gay Out.

 road Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson criticizes President Obama's action on DADT: "I think the dialogue was advanced, but when it came to 'don't ask, don't tell,' I would've let that court ruling stand."

 road Adam Lambert attends pre-Grammys bash.

 road Mickey Rourke speaks further about the development of the new Gareth Thomas biopic: “I’m meeting Gareth’s parents and his family tomorrow in a box to watch the game. This is an incredibly important story about equality and it’s something I want to make happen. We’re working on the script, the treatment and we have the producers on board. I’m very excited to see Gareth play – it’s a first.”

 road Not a surprise but a study reveals that anti-gay states are unhealthy.

 road Increase in the number of Jamaican gays seeking asylum in the United States.


Matthew Morrison's Bod Does Details

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Glee's Mr. Schue Matthew Morrison shows off the body he got as a dancer on the December cover of Details.

One thing the article makes clear: he's not gay.

"By his sophomore year he had dropped out of NYU and become a regular performer on Broadway. As a young heterosexual in a scene dominated by women and gay men, he was bathed in attention. 'There was so much opportunity,' he says. 'There were all these beautiful, beautiful dancers. As a straight guy I had some room. There were the shared interests in singing and dancing, and I always find dancing with someone very evocative and sexual. I definitely hooked up with a lot of girls when I was a young guy on Broadway. It was exciting. Very joyous and free.'"

One more shot, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Matthew Morrison's Bod Does Details" »


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