Magazine article Variety

U.K. Pan-Demonium

Magazine article Variety

U.K. Pan-Demonium

Article excerpt

BRIT LEGIT

West End tuners have been in short supply since the triumphant opening of "Matilda the Musical" in November 201 1, but the new season offers some serious box office contenders. On deck for the autumn are "Loserville" at the Garrick (previewing Oct. 1), "The Bodyguard" at the Adelphi (Nov. 6) and Judy "Mamma Mia" Craymer's Spice Girls-inspired "Viva Forever" at the Piccadilly (Nov. 27) . However, a different West End prospect has been piquing the interest of legiters: "Finding Neverland," a musical from Harvey Weinstein.

Currently in technical rehearsals, the show about the writing of "Peter Pan" will begin a brief, three-week tryout Sept. 22 at the Curve, the recently built large-scale theater in Leicester, a 70-minute train ride away from London, although in keeping with tradition, the show is open for review by regional press only.

While clearly based on David Magee's Oscar-nommed screenplay of the 2004 Miramax movie, Allan Knee's book for the "Finding Neverland" tuner also draws on his own original play, "The Man Who Was Peter Pan."

All the characters will be played by Brits, principally the central roles of Scottish playwright J. M. Barrie, played onscreen by Johnny Depp and onstage by Julian Ovenden ("Butley" on Broadway opposite Nathan Lane), and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, which Kate Winslet limned onscreen and played by Rosalie Craig onstage. But the créatives working with American helmer/ choreographer Rob Ashford ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying") are almost exclusively American, from songwriting duo Scott Frankel and Michael Korie ("Grey Gardens") to set designer Scott Pask.

The exception is Brit costume designer Paul Wills, who worked alongside Ashford on the Donmar Warehouse's production of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie," starring Ruth Wilson and Jude Law, which nabbed the 2012 Olivier for top revival.

Weinstein has been widely quoted as saying the lavish "Finding Neverland" production will have cost around 57 million ($1 1.2 million) before it reaches London so, unsurprisingly, the industry is awash with rumors as to which theater will be opening its doors to the impresario next spring.

Unlike Broadway houses, which are routinely locked down for shows many months in advance, London theaters tend to be more flexible, and book properties later. …

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