Jeff Sullivan, who plays Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie on the current Broadway touring production of “Finding Neverland,” is officially at the halfway mark of this tour.
Of course, the halfway mark means he’s performed this role approximately 130 times.
That, coupled with the character spending no less than 20 minutes off stage for each performance, has led to making a few sacrifices to get so well acquainted with the story behind “Peter Pan.”
“(I’m) taking that very seriously. Not much of a social life outside of the show,” Sullivan said.
However, Sullivan said what he may lack in social outings on this tour he makes up for in performing a hit Broadway musical that consistently sparks fun a childlike wonder in audiences night after night. “Finding Neverland” continues its flight to theatres across the country when it comes to the Lexington Opera House Feb. 15-17.
Audiences may have seen the story behind the creation of the timeless literary classic “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” a couple of different ways before it made its way to the Broadway stage. The musical is based on the 1998 play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan” written by Allan Knee, which later became the 2004 Academy Award-winning film “Finding Neverland” starring Johnny Depp in the J.M. Barrie role.
The musical made its world premiere in England before coming back stateside to debut in Massachusetts before landing on Broadway in 2015, which featured “Glee” star Matthew Morrison in the lead role.
Based on the book by James Graham, the story takes viewers into the mind of J.M. Barrie as he struggles to create a memorable play. He finds some unlikely inspiration when he encounters the four imaginative young children of a widowed mother, which allows him to unlock his own imagination and create the world and the characters that would later become the classic story “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.”
There are many elements that come together that make this a consistent crowd-pleaser and led to it receiving the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award, he said. The show’s features plenty of breathtaking technical aspects, whether it be flying effects or stunning projections, that he said “make this show stand out amongst many others.”
The show’s music also mixes classical music and contemporary musical theatre but has a distinctly pop tilt courtesy of composers/lyricists Eliot Kennedy (who has written No. 1 hits for everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Spice Girls) and Gary Barlow (former member of the hit British pop group Take That).
“I think it works extremely well because there’s something in it for everybody,” Sullivan said.
For Sullivan, he said despite the show’s demands, he gets great joy out of being able to give audiences a gateway into J.M. Barrie’s story and showing how he rediscovers his ability to play and create every single performance. In fact, he thinks what his character discovers is something that audiences also discover after the play comes to its culminating and heartwarming finale.
“Life will come at you many different ways. Grief, loss, all the things we suffer through as being human. Getting back to that childhood innocence will speak to you, no matter where you come from,” he said. “Imagination is always going to be timeless.”
If you go
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 15, 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17
Tickets: $30 to $125
Where: Lexington Opera House 401 W. Short St.
More info.: 859-233-4567 or Lexingtonoperahouse.com