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'Finding Neverland,' New Musical about 'Peter Pan' Playwright J.M. Barrie, Arriving on Broadway in March

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Aug 13, 2014 04:53 PM EDT

Finding Neverland, the new musical based on Marc Forster's 2004 film about Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie, is coming to Broadway in March 2015.

The show is award-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein's first venture as a theatrical lead producer, though his "Shakespeare in Love" won a Best Picture Oscar and is now a smash hit on stage in London.

Mixed reviews of a tryout production in Leicester, England in 2012 led Weinstein to ditch the songs and start over, bringing in Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus (Pippin) and commissioning a pop score from Gary Barlow, of the band Take That, and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Eliot Kennedy, who has worked with Lulu, Bryan Adams and the Spice Girls among other pop luminaries. The book is by James Graham, and Emmy-winner Mia Michaels ("So You Think You Can Dance") is the choreographer.

Since then Weinstein has been pushing the production hard, even arranging for Jennifer Hudson to sing a number from the show on the 2014 Tony Awards broadcast though it had no announced Broadway plans at the time.

A tryout production is now on stage at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. The cast includes Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) as Barrie and Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins) as Sylvia. Location and casting for the Broadway production have not yet been announced.

Finding Neverland depicts Barrie's struggles with playwriting and marriage, and his relationship with the family that led to his inspiration for Peter Pan. The movie won an Academy Award for Jan A. P. Kaczmarek's score – perhaps a good omen for the stage musical.

And that isn't the only recent "Neverland" news. NBC's next live-theater-on-television broadcast, scheduled for December 4, is the musical Peter Pan starring Christopher Walken, Allison Williams and, we recently learned, Christian Borle of "Smash" and NBC's "The Sound of Music Live!".

More sadly, the death of Robin Williams this week reminded us of his turn as "Peter Banning" (the adult Peter Pan) in the hit film "Hook."

Still, NBC, Harvey Weinstein, and a century of children and their parents continue to prove that the story of Peter Pan has legs (and wings) for the ages.

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TagsPeter Pan, J.M. Barrie, Finding Neverland, Robin Williams, Harvey Weinstein, Gary Barlow, Eliot Kennedy, Shakespeare in Love, broadway, Broadway Musical, Musical, musical theater, Jennifer Hudson

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