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With the success of movie to stage musicals such as Ghost, now it is emerging that a contender for a new West End musical adaptation is Finding Neverland.  The film starred Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in 2004 and led to a host of Oscar nominations inspiring producer Harvey Weinstein to start developing the project as a stage musical.

Weinsten Live Entertainment was to partner with the La Jolla Playhouse for a fall 2011 world premiere in California, but Weinstein "elected not to go forward with the planned production at the Playhouse," La Jolla Playhouse previously announced.  The official reason for the cancellation of "Finding Neverland" was that the musical needed more work.  Weinstein, in a statement, said he was planning to produce a workshop in New York in the fall.  People who've seen readings of the show say it's by no means finished, but would have benefited from a La Jolla run.

"There's something wonderful there," one person says. "Some of the songs are gorgeous. The creators knew they had work to do, but they needed to see it in front of an audience."

Now it has been reported that the musical will have a reading in December in London.  Julian Ovenden of Off-Broadway's Death Takes a Holiday will play Scottish playwright Barrie. Jenna Russell, the 2008 Tony Award nominee of Sunday in the Park With George, will play Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the ailing mother whose family inspired Barrie.  Julian ovenden was part of developmental reading presentation in New York earlier this year.  The reading will take place with a full cast.  Director Rob Ashford told the Mail's Baz Bamigboye, "It’s more a character piece with music and dancing than a full-blown piece like 42nd Street or Singing In The Rain."  

Finding Neverland has a score by Grey Gardens Tony nominees Scott Frankel and Michael Korie and a book by Allan Knee, who drew from his play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, which was adapted into the film Finding Neverland.  However the film verison was scripted by David Magee who received an Oscar nomination. 

Following the success of the picture, Weinstein invited Knee to write a draft of a musical libretto with no restrictions about cast size or approach, except that no one — Knee included — wanted a word-for-word version of the earlier play or screenplay.  "The soul of the movie is adaptable but it really has to be about reinventing the movie and the play into a new experience," Knee previously told  In writing the libretto, Knee said he did more research than he did when he wrote the source play more than a decade ago.

Producers are said to be aiming for a West End debut late next year or early 2013.  Weinstein is reported to have other screen-to-stage musicals in development including "Chocolat" and "Cinema Paradiso.

[posted by Louise, 28/11/2011]

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