EXCLUSIVE: Nowhere Boy, the 2009 John Lennon biopic about the teenage years of the future Beatle, is being developed as a stage musical, Deadline has learned. Producers Brian and Dayna Lee of AF Creative Media, and Robyn Goodman and Josh Fiedler of Aged in Wood, have acquired stage rights to the Ecosse Films biopic that starred Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lennon, Kristen Scott Thomas as Lennon’s aunt Mimi Smith and Anne-Marie Duff as Lennon’s mother Julia.
As with the film, the musical – currently in the very early development stage – will focus on the Quarrymen-era Lennon and the two women who played pivotal roles in his life: Julia Lennon, who abandoned her son but had re-entered his life shortly before she was struck and killed by a car, and Julia’s older sister Mimi Smith, who raised Lennon and remained close to him until the icon’s assassination in 1980.
The Lees said the producers envision a “play with music,” using the film as a template for incorporating the era’s hits, particularly songs by the African-American musicians who so inspired Lennon and the Liverpool youth. Dayna Lee said that, as with the film, the stage version would explore and expand upon the relationships between Lennon, his aunt and his mother – “two very different women, very powerful in different ways.”
Brian Lee said the producers are targeting a U.K. premiere for Nowhere Boy “in the next few years.” At this point, the producers have no immediate plans to seek additional life or music rights; the Lees said Yoko Ono is aware of the project but has no involvement.
“We’ve just secured the rights of the film,” Brian Lee said, “and as a team we’ll be traveling to London this summer, trying to figure out the right person to bring this narrative to life.”
As with the film (directed by Sam Taylor-Wood; produced by Ecosse Films and Douglas Rae and Robert Bernstein), a Nowhere Boy stage musical would not include Beatles songs but would utilize rock and roll hits of the late 1950s. The film included Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” for example, and although the film used Lennon’s “Mother” at the end, the Lees have no plans at this point of using the song. They have not had discussions with Yoko Ono about the project.
The Lees’ stage producing credits include the 2018 Angels in America revival, as well as 2017’s People, Places and Things Off Broadway. They are among the co-producers of the Broadway-bound Moulin Rouge! (set to open this summer); Nowhere Boy will be their first project as lead producers.
Aged in Wood’s Goodman and Fiedler co-produced Avenue Q, In The Heights, Cinderella and Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo starring Robin Williams.