When Billy Harrigan Tighe took on the role of Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in the touring Broadway production of “Finding Neverland,” it spoke to the actor in a way he didn’t anticipate.
“I think everybody can relate to dreams that we pursue that become careers and work and responsibilities,” Tighe said. “The responsibility becomes the priority rather than what got you there.”
For Tighe, the call to pursue acting occurred when he was participating in an eighth-grade honors chorus. He caught the attention of the head of the performing arts school in his town. She asked him to audition.
“Like many kids, I had zero self-esteem in middle school. I was aimlessly going through adolescence. I had an awful middle school experience. My family moved around a lot, and I was always the new kid,” he said. “It was the first time that somebody just sought me out.”
While playing the role of Elder Price in the national tour of “The Book of Mormon,” Tighe found himself drifting away from why he became an actor in the first place. He was becoming too wrapped up in furthering his career — and the grind that comes with doing eight shows a week. “Finding Neverland” changed that.
“There will always be the stress. There’s no way around it,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.”
“Finding Neverland” follows the story of Barrie and the four boys he met in London’s Kensington Gardens who inspired “Peter Pan.”
Tighe said what makes “Peter Pan” such a classic is that it offers something for both children and adults.
“When I was a kid, it’s all about pirates, flying, and adventure,” he said, recalling how as a boy, he spent hour upon hour re-creating scenes from “Hook,” the 1991 Steven Spielberg film about a middle-aged man who discovers he’s an adult Peter Pan and has to fight Captain Hook again. “Once I joined the ‘Finding Neverland’ cast, I realized it was really about time, life, and dreams, and keeping the inner child spirit as you get older.”
The Peace Center
July 25–27, 7:30 p.m.; July 28, 8 p.m.; July 29, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; July 30, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.