Five Burning Questions with Finding Neverland Star Laura Michelle Kelly
Laura Michelle Kelly is the heart at the center of the hit musical Finding Neverland; she is nothing short of radiant as Sylvia Llewelyn Davis, a widowed mother of four who captures the eye of Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie. BroadwayBox recently chatted with the Broadway and West End leading lady about that epic nursery scene, the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel, and why New York is finally ready for Lord of the Rings onstage.
1. Your Act II nursery scene [gif above] is so beautiful. What are you thinking in that moment?
That is so magical, isn’t it? I wish people could see what I imagine in my mind so I try to show them. I picture everything James Barrie has described from the outset about what Neverland is and all the images I’ve been given by previous Peter Pan stories. It's the land of the fairies and the mermaids, and I imagine it very much full of nature. I see the adventure, the landscape, the beach, the luscious rainforest-type trees, waterfalls—any image I’ve ever had from Peter Pan has been beautiful landscape.
2. Which of your U.K. credits do you wish New York audiences could have seen you in?
I am still convinced that Lord of the Rings is going to make a return. [Kelly played Galadriel in Matthew Warchus’ 2007 London production.] It was such an incredible show; I really think people are ready for it now, but I don't think they were ready when we did it back in London. It was groundbreaking in immersive theatre: 11 pieces of the stage moving in and out, circus performers, bungee jumpers, stilt walkers, silk work woven throughout the show. I don't know anyone that did the immersive experience in a seated theatre quite as well as them. And everything has progressed since that day, so I think they would rework it today too. I think it needs to happen now.
3. You all must have been as shocked as we were on Tony nomination day. What was that like for the Finding Neverland company?
I feel like Kelsey [Grammer] and Matthew [Morrison] really set the tone. They came in and said, ‘Guys, it’s ok. We know we are doing something wonderful.’ They had an amazing attitude about it. I was more upset for them—I wasn't upset for myself—but I would have loved for them to be honored for the work they are doing in our show. I would have loved for Diane [Paulus] to be honored as well. But you know what? From the outset, no one carried it with them; they had a great attitude. And Harvey [Weinstein] came in straight away, and we felt supported by him. He was very sorry for us that it happened and that meant a lot. He threw us a party and it was lovely. He really cares about all of us.
4. So many recent headlines about this upcoming Mary Poppins sequel. Where does the Olivier Award-winning Mary think the character is 20 years after her first experience with Jane and Michael Banks?
No doubt [Jane and Michael] will have been battered and bruised by something and maybe even find themselves in a very similar position as to what they were in when she arrived. After 20 years you forget the lessons you've learned because of different obstacles that hit you along the way. They probably need reminding of a few—I definitely do. You can easily forget the things you've already learned so no doubt Mary had to come back.
5. What’s the trashiest, lowbrow TV show that you just adore? What would we be surprised to learn that Laura Michelle Kelly loves?
I am a sucker for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette—a sucker. It’s so addictive. It’s even got me watching this amazing TV show called UnREAL, which I sucked up. It’s about producers manipulating the talent. It was brilliant! It was so drama. I was like, ‘Why am I so obsessed with it? Oh because it’s brilliant study on human nature and trashy TV shows.’ I coincided watching it with The Bachelor.
See Laura Michelle Kelly take flight in 'Finding Neverland' at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre