The $11 million musical, punctuated with fantasy elements, including flying, is based on the Academy Award-nominated 2004 film of the same title. Tony and Olivier Award winner Rob Ashford ( Evita, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof) directs and choreographs Finding Neverland, which premiered Sept. 22 at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, U.K. It ended its run there Oct. 18.
It has a book by Knee, based on his play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, with a score by Tony Award-nominated Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven writers Frankel and Korie.
Like many musicals in development, Weinstein told the Times that the creative team will continue to refine and focus the work for wider audiences prior to a full-on commercial premiere. London and Broadway have always been the goal. Weinstein, who also produced the film, reveals that he is aiming for a spring 2013 West End run and is in talks with New York theatre owners to bring Finding Neverland to Broadway during the 2013-14 season.
Weinstein also told the Times that a character that had been cut from the musical at his suggestion, ironically a comedic stage producer played in the film by Dustin Hoffman, will likely be restored to the stage production. The structure of the musical's first act will also be addressed.
The Leicester production starred Julian Ovenden ( Death Takes a Holiday) as Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, who created Peter Pan, opposite Rosalie Craig ( Ragtime) as Sylvia Liewellyn Davies, the ailing mother whose family touched Barrie uniquely. The cast also featured Oliver Boot as Blunt/Hook, Norman Bowman as P.G. Wodehouse, Claire Foster as Mary Barrie, Martin Ledwith as Arthur Conan Doyle, Stuart Neal as Elliot, Liz Robertson as Mrs. DuMaurier and Matt Wilman as Edward Elegar. Here's how the musical is characterized: "With his last play a failure, James Barrie is crippled by writer's block and success seems like a far-away land. But then a chance encounter with widow Sylvia Liewellyn Davies and her four young sons sends his heart and imagination soaring, and their friendship gives birth to a magical tale that will live forever."
Watch Ovenden and Craig duet on "In the Blink of an Eye" from Finding Neverland.
Here's a look at the cast and creative team speaking about the production.