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LONDON – Harvey Weinstein is stirring up the arts scene in the U.K. with plans for a stage musical version of Finding Neverland.
Weinstein is setting up a $10 million stage version of the 2004 film, which starred Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet and told the story of British author JM Barrie who created Peter Pan. And he said he is very hands-on in turning the story into a stage version in Leicester, England where the musical will debut on Sept. 22 at the Curve Theater. He has been working on the show alongside director Rob Ashford.
Weinstein, who runs The Weinstein Co. with his brother Bob, in an interview with the BBC, said that if the musical is a hit in Leicester, he plans to transfer it to London’s West End and then Broadway.
Ashford specializes in the music and choreography, while stories are Weinstein’s strong point, he said, emphasizing that he has been “very hands-on from script to lyrics to music and casting” and that he and Ashford worked as “true partners” in all key aspects. “There are some big moments because this is a $10 million musical,” Weinstein told the BBC.
For the stage show, he has reportedly also called on British theater impresarios Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, who would watch rehearsals and tell him which songs were weak or which bits were too boring. “Over the years with movies, I’ve given directors notes,” he said. “Everything I’ve done to people – this is great karma – is being done to me.”
Weinstein said he backed the film at the time because his children were fans of Peter Pan. “I wanted to do something inspirational for my children,” he told the BBC, adding the interaction with them while making the movie “taught me how to be a father.” He also said his children have been to every workshop in New York City for the stage version and that they’ve been to the U.K. for rehearsals.
The producer chose the Curve Theatre, which opened in 2008, for the launch because its technical and rehearsal facilities beat those of traditional British Victorian playhouses, according to the BBC report.
The roles of Depp and Winslet will be filled on stage by Julian Ovenden and Rosalie Craig.
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