Growing up in Marietta, the Fox Theatre seemed like the “biggest stage in the world” to actor Billy Harrigan Tighe.
Now, in his first leading role in a national touring musical, Tighe will have a chance to fulfill his childhood dream of performing at the historic Atlanta venue.
The actor stars in “Finding Neverland’ as J.M. Barrie, the writer who forms a bond with a family of adventurous boys and is inspired to write “Peter Pan.”
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“Everyone knows something about Peter Pan, but I think a lot of people don’t know how the story was inspired,” Tighe said. “That story is just as amazing to me.”
The Georgia native took on the role in February. Prior to that, he played Elder Price in “The Book of Mormon” in the West End and on a national tour and “Wicked” on a U.S. tour.
“I think as an actor we’re always looking for roles that are challenging both physically and emotionally, [and] that allows us to stretch as artists,” Tighe said of his current role.
The actor said he’s enjoyed stepping into Barrie’s shoes and tackling the challenges that come along with portraying a character who is grappling with the concepts of time and relationships. In this role, he says, he wants to bring a harmonious blend of youthfulness and maturity to the role.
“Peter Pan was always an adventure story about kids, so I approached it trying to remember everything I enjoyed about [the story] as a kid,” Tighe said. “But I’m getting to view it as an adult now with an entirely new lens.”
Tighe, who now lives in New York, says he’ll likely put together a list of his favorite places for the rest of the “Finding Neverland” cast to visit in Atlanta, but one of his priorities is spending time with his family while he’s in town. His younger brother is graduating from high school this year, so his family is planning to hold a graduation party on Monday. Tighe, a certified diver, also plans to go scuba diving with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.
When he steps onto the stage, however, he’ll certainly be taking in the fact that he’s visiting the Fox Theatre as an entertainer, not a spectator.
Ahead of the upcoming shows, Tighe stressed that “Finding Neverland” isn’t just for hopeful kids.
“Everyone knows something about Peter Pan, but I think a lot of people don’t know how the story was inspired. That story is just as amazing to me,” he said. “I always like to say that I think there’s an idea that it’s just a show for kids, and it’s really not.” “More than anything, I think it’s more of a show for adults and families, and anyone who has relationships of any kind.”
Times vary. May 16-21. $30.00 – $150. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. Foxtheatre.org.