AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Diane Paulus plans to make the Peter Pan musical "Finding Neverland" fly in Massachusetts.
The American Repertory Theater said Thursday that the show will kick off its 2014-2015 season under Paulus direction. It's based on the 2004 whimsical film that explored the creation of J.M. Barrie's masterpiece "Peter Pan."
Paulus, who heads the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University and has won Tony Awards for her revivals of "Hair," ''The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" and the circus-themed "Pippin," rehearsed the revamped "Finding Neverland" in New York City earlier this month.
The musical premiered in 2012 in Leicester, England, with a score by Tony-nominated "Grey Gardens" composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, and a book by Allan Knee, based on his play "The Man Who Was Peter Pan." Rob Ashford, who directed the latest Broadway revivals of "Evita," and "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof," staged the premiere, which received mixed reviews.
The new version, which begins performances in Cambridge, Mass., in June, has a book by British playwright James Graham, whose "This House" premiered at the National Theatre in 2012; and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow of the pop band Take That, and songwriter and producer Eliot Kennedy.
In an interview this month, Paulus said she watched the movie with her two daughters -- ages 7 and 9 -- and was inspired to jump aboard. She also brought in Mia Michaels, the "So You Think You Can Dance" judge and "Rock of Ages" film choreographer.
"What I try to do within the form is pull people I think are going to push the form. So, in this case, it's a lot about our choice of choreographer," said Paulus. "I saw her work on that show and I thought, 'That's incredible.'"
In the film, Kate Winslet plays Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, whose four young sons inspired the Scottish author -- played by Johnny Depp -- to write the children's classic "Peter Pan." The film, which also stars Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman, tells how Barrie, who had no children of his own, befriended the Davies boys.
"It's about how you have tragedy in your life, how do you get over it? When you lose a parent or you lose someone you love? How does the mind and creativity save you?" said Paulus.
The rest of the American Repertory Theater's season includes the new play "O.P.C" (or Obsessive Political Correctness) by "The Vagina Monologues" writer Eve Ensler, the world premiere of Matthew Aucoin's "A New American Opera" directed by Paulus, and what's being called an "apocalyptic vaudeville" starring Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac under the direction of Susan Stroman.
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