Mary Kate Hartung on “Finding Neverland”


Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The cast of the National Tour of Finding Neverland performs a group number.

A heart-warming musical telling the story of J.M. Barrie, the unsuccessful playwright who wrote the timeless classic “Peter Pan,” “Finding Neverland,” will be playing at the Marcus Center starting Tuesday, Feb. 20, until Sunday, Feb. 25.

Inspired by a true story, “Finding Neverland” is based on the 2004 Miramax film of the same name, as well as Allan Knee’s play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan.” Combining fantasy with reality, and filled with inspiring songs and invigorating dance numbers, the musical features a talented cast of actors of all ages.

Actress Mary Kate Hartung joined the cast four months ago, taking on the role of Wendy/ensemble as a replacement. After a whirlwind two-week rehearsal process, Hartung was integrated into the cast that had already been touring across the country performing for a year prior.

“With every person that comes into new parts, they make it their own … so that’s been really interesting. We’ve had a lot of new people coming into the show, so it’s been a really nice way to see how other people play the parts,” Hartung said.

In addition to playing Wendy, who is featured at the beginning and the end of the musical, Hartung performs in a wide variety of ensemble roles, including pirate, parkgoer, actress and mermaid. As rapidly as her role changes throughout the show, Hartung said she best prepares to get into the mindset of her characters through listening to the show’s music and getting into costume and makeup.

As thrilling and rewarding as the life of a professional performer is, it has been a long process for Hartung to get where she is today. A Wisconsin native, Hartung grew up dancing at the Monona Academy of Dance in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and was involved in musicals and theatrical productions throughout high school. She then moved to New York City and got a degree in dance at New York University. After auditioning and performing in various shows for a variety of different companies around New York, Hartung landed her first national tour gig with “Finding Neverland.”

Hartung reflected on her experiences in the “Finding Neverland” North American Tour with immense gratitude.

“I’m just so thankful for the opportunity and all the people I’ve met through this process and getting to see the United States,” she said. “It’s a really great way to see places that I wouldn’t normally see.”

The touring cast typically performs the show in a city for a week or two at a time. A rewarding aspect of performing on tour is getting to reach the show out to as many audiences, and “Finding Neverland” has been receiving some extremely positive feedback.

Audiences across the nation have repeatedly talked about how the show has exceeded their expectations, Hartung said. “I think it’s a very uplifting show … for me it’s about being able to send the message of love and positivity … It’s just always so wonderful when people come backstage and are so thankful for what we do up there.”

A tale of inspiration and imagination for all ages, “Finding Neverland” is sure to be an experience not to miss.