Published: 04:54 PM, Sun March, 3 2019
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The North American tour of “Finding Neverland” comes to the region this week and with a Youngstown native in the cast.
IF YOU GO
What: “Finding Neverland”
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
Where: E.J. Thomas Hall, Akron
Tickets: $30 to $72.50 (fees apply) at ticketmaster.com and by phone at 800-745-3000
Joshua William Green plays the role of Mr. Henshaw in the hit Broadway musical, and is also in the ensemble.
It’s the first full national tour for Green, a graduate of Wilson High School (2007 ) and Youngstown State University.
The singer-dancer-actor moved to New York a year ago to pursue a theater career. He got off to a quick start by landing a role with the “Neverland” tour, which started in September and runs through April 2020.
The musical will come to E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Neverland” is about author J.M. Barrie and his relationship with the family that inspired him to write “Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.” It is based on the 2004 movie of the same name, and the play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan.”
The musical is set in 1903. Green described the plot in a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Gainesville, Fla.
“It’s about the author of ‘Peter Pan’ and what is going on in his life at the time,” Green said. “He is stuck in a rut and he meets a family with kids who teach him how to use his imagination. He takes their ideas and starts building the script for ‘Peter Pan’.”
Green’s character – Mr. Henshaw – was one of the main actors at the theater in London where Barrie worked.
“Neverland” is the second national tour for Green, who did a stint with “Ragtime” in 2016.
He also spent time as an actor at a theater in Lancaster, Pa., before moving to New York in January 2018.
Green is the son of Karen Clark-Green, a professional dancer, singer, playwright, actor and director. She founded and directed the former Archangel Dance Theater in Youngstown, where Joshua got his start as a dancer.
At age 6, he performed in a touring production of “South Pacific” that was produced by the Kenley Players of Warren, but afterward, he put theater on the back-burner.
When he entered high school, Green rekindled his love of the stage. He became a member of the Youngstown Connection and performed in China with the song-and- dance troupe comprised of students from city high schools.
“That’s where I got my real performing started,” he said. “It made me realize how much I wanted to keep on singing and dancing.”
After high school, he attended the American Musical and Dance Academy in New York and then went to YSU where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theater.
“Before that I wasn’t a theater person, and I realized that I needed that experience,” said Green. “I went to YSU and got very heavily involved in community theater.”
Green gave standout performances in a number of shows at the Youngstown Playhouse and Top Hat Productions, including “Cats,” “Hairspray,” “57th Street,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” “Legally Blonde,” “A Chorus Line” and “The Wiz.”
While a sophomore at YSU, he sang in the 2012 premiere of “Rocktopia” at Powers Auditorium. “Rocktopia” is the rock-meets-classical music concert that was co-created by Randall Craig Fleischer, director of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
He would rejoin “Rocktopia” in New York last year, when the show did a run on Broadway and a subsequent tour that included an October performance at Powers. Green managed the singers in the chorus during the tour.
The “Rocktopia” directors reached out to Green when the show first came to Broadway, which led to a bit of a surprise when he and Fleischer ran into each other at a rehearsal.
“He had no idea I would be there, and I didn’t even know that he was still involved with it,” said Green. “When we saw each other, he said ‘Aren’t you from Youngstown?’”
Green also had another interesting job shortly after moving to New York. He landed a gig as a backup singer for Sam Smith during his performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards.