What You Mean To Me
Disclaimer: I originally wrote and published this on a different blog. I feel as though it is important to let you know that since this press day video, the choreography has changed slightly. Also, I have seen this Broadway production since I wrote this article.
As a director for the stage, I can’t help but look at performances and just see the movement and creativity of a director or choreographer. I notice the emotion within the movements. I notice the beats. I notice the emotion from the hands and feet, even the nose and eyes! It’s truly incredible. But I’m sure other theater people can say the same thing about their craft. And what performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison do in this video is intoxicating.
I’ve always loved the Disney’s Peter Pan film but when Johnny Depp’s film “Finding Neverland” came out, it was game over. The story of“Finding Neverland” was an incredible story that needed to be told and I’m glad it was told. I’m not sure if there are other films like “Finding Neverland” or “Saving Mr. Banks” but, as a creator and artist, I find those kinds of stories very motivating. Something about how a single person can live through so much bad yet produce such greatness, it’s just… WOW!
While I haven’t seen the Broadway production of “Finding Neverland — The New Musical” yet, I have seen rehearsal footage as mentioned above. (Side note: I do plan on seeing the show next month!) I always get nervous about musicals that come from movies or tv shows. I can’t explain it and I try not to ‘write it off’ until I’ve seen it. And I typically try not to make a habit of ‘writing off’ any given show just because I don’t like it because it’s art. Art is subjective and it’s objective and it’s personal. I could go on forever about that but I won’t do that here (-mentally saving that idea for another blog post though).
Anyway, when I saw the “What You Mean to Me” video posted on Broadway.com’s Youtube page, I had chills and I was speechless. I was pleasantly surprised by Matthew Morrison’s seemingly easy transition from Glee teacher to struggling playwright. I was completely blown away by Laura Michelle Kelly’s performance in this 3.5 minute clip. I’ve never seen her perform before and I just couldn’t believe she was able to have that much control with her voice. I’m very excited to see her live to say the least. But after my 2nd or 3rd time watching the video, I began studying their feet, their hand movements, and their spacing throughout the song.
At the beginning of the song, they start at opposite ends of the room — with a ghost light standing between them. Once they start singing, they both start walking towards each other and you can instantly feel the passion between them. I’m not sure if this was choreographer Mia Michael’s intention but there were a lot of ‘close-to-touching’ moments — as if both characters wanted to hold each other but stopped short due to fear: “I won’t lie, I’m a little bit frightened of my imagination”. About ¼ of the way through the song Morrison grabs Kelly’s hand and they do not let go of each other until the end of the brief dance break. And by the look of their facial expressions, they are coming back to reality after a brief moment of seeing what it could be like if they let go of their inhibitions and would just be together. Luckily they only stay apart for a few seconds and the second time they sing “I won’t lie, I’m a little bit frightened of my imagination” they are grasping onto each other’s arms and staring into each other’s eyes as if they are saying they are more certain this time. And again, they hold onto each other until the end of the song which ends in a kiss.
Such beauty comes from simplicity. I liked how the choreography was minimal yet intricate. I enjoyed seeing a new type of choreography that will grace a Broadway stage. It wasn’t the typical Musical Theatre choreo but it didn’t seem out of place either.
I think my little excited rant is over for now. This video not only moved me but it has equally inspired me to create more! And I can’t wait to see the whole production!! If you’re interested in seeing the show for discounted tickets, please consider visiting TodayTix or downloading their app!