As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.
by Alicia Hansen
As the national tour of Finding Neverland arrives as the second show in the 2016-17 Playhouse Square KeyBank Broadway Series, it comes with it an array of talented individuals – one of them being Ohio native, Kevin Kern. A graduate of New York University and Broadway alum (including roles in The Wedding Singer and Les Miserables), this actor brings the creator of a familiar fairy tale to life on stage for Cleveland audiences to enjoy. In this Broadway Buzz interview, learn how Kern continues to learn about that classic story we all know and love, all the while balancing life as a professional actor on the road.
The tale of Peter Pan is one many are familiar with due to the popular Disney movie and other featured recreations. In playing Peter’s creator – J. M. Barrie – in Finding Neverland, what did you learn about this classic tale that was new or different than what you knew previously?
While I knew the Peter Pan tale well, I can’t say I was exactly obsessed with it, so there were a few things that surprised me. First, I never knew that its first appearance was as a play. I thought that it started as a novel, although J. M. Barrie did later novelize his own play. I also was surprised at just how dark the original story was. For examples: man-eating mermaids, and boys who were stolen away from their parents and then killed off by Peter when they get too old – look it up! But all fairy tales were pretty rough back then, so who can blame Barrie for falling in with the crowd.
This musical features a vibrant cast of seasoned Broadway professionals, including children and a few dogs! How does this variety add to your experience acting in this production?
I LOVE this cast. Not only are there some Broadway vets, but there are also quite a few fresh faces who are just beginning to make a name for themselves in this business – they have long careers ahead of them. We all mix together well onstage and (maybe more importantly) get along well offstage as well.
The US national tour of this production debuted recently in Buffalo, right before arriving here in Cleveland. What do you consider a challenge about the opening of a production while being out on the road?
The unique thing about this production is the producers really didn’t want to just sit back and rest on their laurels. Most national tours are just a basic remounting of their Broadway counterparts. But here the creative team wanted to re-imagine major chunks of the show and were given leeway (and money!) by the producers to make their magic. The result is a show that’s even better than the one I got to do in Broadway. I’m really proud of all the hard work we all put in to make this the best show it can be!
I understand you and Megan Elizabeth Lawrence married after meeting as cast members of Les Miserables. How do you balance your performing career, especially while touring, and being a husband as well as a father of four?
Well, it’s not easy! When you have as many kids as we do, you always have to balance being supportive of them and supporting them. In other words, being there for them and going to work to make their lives better. It’s the challenge all parents have, but when you add going away for months at a time, the sacrifices become more severe. But I do get to travel home a lot and I am constantly reminded of families who are way more challenged by parents being away than we are. Not to be over dramatic, but it makes you appreciate the sacrifices parents in our military make when they have to go away from their families for sometimes a year at a time.
Out of all the productions you’ve been involved in over the years, how does this production of Finding Neverland stand apart?
As I said before, I really love the people in this show. I’ve been lucky in my career to been around great shows as well as great casts. This cast is so much fun and make doing the show that much more special!
part of the Playhouse Square KeyBank Broadway Series
at the Connor Palace ∙ November 1 – 20, 2016