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Peter Pan show ‘Finding Neverland’ goes to Boston

FILE - This June 9, 2013 file photo shows Diane Paulus, Tony  Award winner for best direction in a musical for "Pippin" at the 67th Annual Tony Awards in New York. Paulus is going to try to make the Peter Pan musical “Finding Neverland” fly in Massachusetts. The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University 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." (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - This June 9, 2013 file photo shows Diane Paulus, Tony Award winner for best direction in a musical for "Pippin" at the 67th Annual Tony Awards in New York. Paulus is going to try to make the Peter Pan musical “Finding Neverland” fly in Massachusetts. The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University 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." (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Diane Paulus plans to make the Peter Pan musical Finding Neverland fly in Massachusetts.

The American Repertory Theater said yesterday that the show will kick off its 2014-2015 season under Paulus’s 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?” Paulus said.

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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