Production: Finding Neverland (2017)
Performer: Christine Dwyer
Role: Sylvia Llewelyn Davies
You’ve previously been Elphaba on Broadway. How does this compare?
It’s funny actually. The guy that I play opposite right now, Billy, was my Fiyero in Wicked on tour, and now we’ve kind of switched roles. He’s doing all the work while I get so much time offstage. I have one hard song, and then for the rest of the time, I can just kind of chill out and watch my other castmates beat themselves up with this dancing and singing and everything. But, you know, they’re definitely two really really strong women, which is very similar, but I think Elphaba is a little bit more of the earth, and Sylvia is more of the sky in a way. She has her head in the clouds in a good way, and she knows that she’s struggling. She’s been through some tragedies and family loss, and yet she still finds a way to persevere, and I love that about her. I love that about both characters, that they persevere in the face of adversity. They’re similar in that way.
What was it like working so closely with so many little children?
It’s awesome. Being on stage with kids is unlike anything else because they don’t have the anxieties that the rest of us have when we perform, so it’s a really nice breath of fresh air to be on stage with kids who are really just having fun. They don’t think about it is a job the way that older actors do, so it’s really nice and reminds me of why I did this in the first place.
Can you discuss the vortex of glitter during Sylvia’s death?
Yes! When I saw it on Broadway, I saw it twice, and it truly was one of the most beautiful things I had ever witnessed. It’s such a beautiful way to experience that part of the story because it’s hopeful and its beautiful and sweet so it’s not so sad when it happens. It’s actually kind of this really nice release and you hope that everyone you care about, when they’ve passed on, that it’s in a pool of glitter.
Do you ever have to worry about it getting in your hair or in your eyes?
Yeah actually some of it got in my mouth tonight! I opened my mouth wider than I normally do and some of it got in my mouth! When I turned around, I was like “Phthhhh!” I was trying to blow it out of my mouth! It’s mylar, which, when mylar gets wet, it just adheres to whatever it is. So when it gets in your mouth, it just sticks in there. So you definitely have to be careful, and at the end, after all that happens, Wendy, Peter Pan and myself, we usually all have glitter in our wigs. There’s usually someone offstage picking it out of our hair.
Did I see that there was something attaching the dress to the bottom piece so your skirt didn’t fly up?
Yeah! Otherwise the fans that we use in the show are really strong and my dress will just fly up. It’s happened a couple of times when the elastics that I wear around my ankles have broken and then I have to figure out a way to hold it down. But yes, there are tricks like that so we can still have it be a family show!
You didn’t wear any wires in the show, so can you talk about how you were lifted into the air?
I get lifted by Peter Pan and Wendy. Peter Pan has one [a wire]- it’s like this vest or harness that is then clicked in by one of our crew guys, and then she goes up. But it’s really restricting and really heavy, so she has to wear one. Luckily I don’t have to do that because apparently they’re really uncomfortable!
If there is one thing you want kids to take away from the show, what would it be?
I would say, and not even just kids, really everyone, to not let life get you down to the point where you don’t follow your dreams and decide to go after what you want. Because no matter what, life is short and you should take every opportunity you are given and do the most with it. If you don’t, you’ll never know. And I think that’s such a great part about the character that I get to play and such a great part about being onstage with kids. It’s really all just about finding your inner child and allowing your imagination to take you places you didn’t think you could.
Feature Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel