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Confession time. When I was at university, I loved watching and sobbing over the movie Finding Neverland with my flatmates. So the chance to get to see the musical version of the show here in my hometown is thrilling! And how can I not get giddy having the chance to chat with actor Mark Bacon who plays J.M. Barrie in the Non Equity tour of Finding Neverland. He has great looks, bucket loads of talent and as you’ll learn he has a huge heart that would impress even the original J.M. Barrie.
So grab a cuppa and learn 7 tidbits about Mark:
Favorite part of the show?
When the four boys put on a play for J.M. Barrie and their mom, Sylvia. Personally, watching these young actors and how they interpret the scene is so great because child actors are so unfiltered, do what they think is right and have no qualms with it. It’s so different from how adults tackle a scene.
Over the past 5 months we’ve had 17 different kids play these different roles and someone always brings something totally different to the scene.
Were you a child actor?
Yes, actually I started pretty early myself. My mom asked if I wanted to do swimming lessons or drama classes. I chose drama because they gave candy at the end of the class.
The first real role I had was as George (Stuart’s brother) in Stuart Little.
What was the best lessons your teachers taught you at university?
It parallels Barrie’s story funny enough. I did my first year at University of Florida and the teachers were nonplussed by me. I kept getting push back. One teacher said I regressed and should consider leaving. Another teacher said I was not mentally capable of handling this lifestyle. As a result, they blacklisted me from shows and (in not so many words) said I needed to take a year to figure it out.
Of course, I was devastated and decided to focus on me as a human being. I got new roommates and new friends who were outside of the theater world.
It helped enhance my everything, the way I approached roles, the way I approached my life outside of theater.
I felt like a person who does musical theater bringing outside experiences to the theater. Ironically the next summer I got my first equity job (Gypsy at Hangar Theatre in New York). It was the first time a theater of note was looking at me. It was so validating to have people say they see something of worth in me after all these negative experiences.
Similarly J.M. Barrie kept being told no, no, no after every turn, and yet he pushed forward to do what was right even though it feels uncomfortable.
I really look back on that experience fondly. It was extremely tough but I grew so much as a result of it!
How did You take what you’ve learned as a young person and apply it to J.M. Barrie?
One thing I was really nervous about was how Barrie used his imagination. I had been doing commercial theater for a while and it does not require you to create up from the ground up (which is what J.M. Barrie does). I had to go back to being a kid and finding the moments where I have to sit still and be silly and engage naturally with these boys on stage. The boys in the show really helped instill that in me.
Have you as a tour group had a chance to visit children’s homes and/or hospitals?
We have not yet but I would love to go to children’s homes. J.M. Barrie invited orphans to his show so that would be so in the spirit of the show!
Have you had an experience yet that reminds you why you are doing this show?
There was one day in Pennsylvania when a young girl (about 15 years old) hit me up on Instagram and said that this was her 3rd time to see the production and she and her mom had driven 1 1/2 hours. I replied and encouraged her to come to the stage door to meet some of the cast members for photos. Her mom pulled me aside and said I had made her daughter so incredibly happy.
Things like this are so wild! To get tags in posts and random Instagram messages. One girl asking for a signed playbills for my sister who has Leukemia and this month a teenage boy in Turin, Italy, who’d been trolling videos of me doing this show reached out and told me that he loved what I did with the role.
This is why I do the show. I was so inspired by so many other people and I never believed I would be someone to inspire someone on this level. I don’t take that lightly and those who pay to come see the show deserve the best.
At the end of our interview, Mark gamely helped me come up with an acronym of songs that represent both himself and the show using the letters of his surname.
B-A-C-O-N in Songs:
What song best represents Barrie’s life to you?
B – “Believe” (Finding Neverland)
What song (not from the show) best represents the show (what people are going through and how they get through it)?
A – “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (Dreamgirls)
What song best represents your life?
C – Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol)
What song best presents your childhood/growing up?
O – Older Chests (Damien Rice)
Give us the name of a random song beginning with N?
N – New Dorp New York (SBTRKT)
For More About Mark:
Bio: Mark Bacon (J.M. Barrie) is thrilled to play with his imagination for the next year! Selected credits: Brigadoon (Tommy), Hairspray (Link), Heathers (Hipster, JD understudy), All Shook Up (Chad), Mamma Mia! (Sky). Shout out to my flight attendants.
Finding Neverland Tour Dates:
Thousand Oaks, CA (1/16-20)
Hays, KS (1/23)
Columbia, MO (1/24)
St. Charles, MO (1/25)
Pittsburg, KS (1/26)
McAllen, TX (1/28)
San Antonio, TX (1/29)
Abilene, TX (1/30)
Brenham, TX (1/31)
For tickets and more dates visit the official website here.