Perhaps taking a cue from colleague Marc Platt – who defied critics’ expectations by turning the widely dissed Wicked into one of Broadway’s biggest all-time moneymakers – Harvey Weinstein stayed the course with Finding Neverland, the musical adaptation of the 2004 Miramax movie about the creation of Peter Pan that has finally arrived on Broadway.
As I say in my video review above, the resulting production stars Glee‘s Matthew Morrison as Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, and Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer as the theater producer who reappears in Barrie’s imagination (and on stage, much to our delight) as Captain Hook. It’s bound to be dodging critical brickbats while the Lunt-Fontane Theatre’s cash register rings up angels (oops, wrong movie). If nothing else, Finding Neverland is certainly better than the more lavishly praised Peter And The Starcatcher of recent vintage.
With Diane Paulus at the helm – she of Tony-winning revivals of Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess and Hair – the musical relates the story of Barrie, choked by personal and artistic crises, finding inspiration and love in the embrace of a young widow (the lovely Laura Michelle Kelly) and her four sons.
With a pop-song score by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, and a tear-jerking book by James Graham, Finding Neverland may be kitsch, but hey, kitsch sells — whether you take it straight up or with a strong dose of irony. Let’s see what smart marketing can do to make this Broadway baby fly.