EXCLUSIVE: Determined to prove his bona fides as a Broadway producer, Harvey Weinstein told Deadline this morning that he and director Diane Paulus are “incredibly happy with the Boston reviews of Finding Neverland,” which is heading to Broadway next spring.
The revised adaptation of the new musical opened Wednesday night at the American Repertory Theatre, the nonprofit homebased on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA. Staged by A.R.T. artistic director Paulus (Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess), the musical is drawn from the 2004 Miramax film about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie. In a mixed-to-positive review, the Boston Globe said “this is a fun and touching show, gorgeous to look at and listen to, and the 2½ hours mostly fly by.” Former Globe critic Ed Siegel, now at public radio station WBUR, said “Finding Neverland is an enjoyable musical from start to finish. It’s well-cast, even better sung and marvelously choreographed by Mia Michaels.” Jared Bowen, of WGBH, joined the huzzahs, exclaiming, “I don’t have enough thumbs to raise in appreciation for the new Finding Neverland.” Reviews in Deadline and The New York Times were more circumspect, while acknowledging that the show remains a work-in-progress.
“The reason you go out of town is to try things out,” Weinstein said. Ticket sales at A.R.T. are on track to make it the theater’s biggest hit ever, in the wake of such audience-friendly shows as Pippin and serious ground-breakers like a striking revival of The Glass Menagerie, under Paulus’ watch.
“Diane and I are well aware of the things we need to do, especially in the first act,” Weinstein added. “The second act is near-perfect.”
I reminded Harvey that Irving Berlin left a reading in a huff after being told he needed a “challenge song” for Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton, the stars of his new show Annie Get Your Gun. Fifteen minutes later he was on the telephone singing “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” to his producers — Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein — and director Joshua Logan. “Where the hell did you write that?” the stunned Logan asked. “In the taxicab,” Berlin replied. “I had to, didn’t I?”
Weinstein laughed. “I will be in Central Park this afternoon with [songwriter] Gary Barlow writing a new song,” he said. “Please tell people not to put any money in the cup.”