Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

La Jolla Playhouse to revisit 'Peter Pan' story yet again, with 'Finding Neverland' stage musical

February 7, 2011 |  5:30 pm


Peter Pan Syndrome is the pop-psychological term for men who can’t or won’t grow up, but the La Jolla Playhouse seems bent on giving it a fresh meaning: the condition of being a theater company that can't or won’t give a certain J.M. Barrie classic the hook.

The world premiere of “Finding Neverland,” a biographical musical about how Barrie, a Scottish playwright, created “Peter Pan” more than 100 years ago, has been added to the 2011-12 season, the playhouse announced Sunday -– making it three different productions for La Jolla in 10 years centering on the “Peter Pan” story.

In 2002, under then-artistic director Des McAnuff, the playhouse hosted “Mabou Mines’ Peter and Wendy,” a touring production that relied heavily on puppetry and featured original music and a band led by the late, great Scottish fiddler, Johnny Cunningham.

In 2009, under current artistic director Christopher Ashley, the playhouse’s Page to Stage series of new works in development included a workshop staging of “Peter and the Starcatchers,” a musical based on a 2004 children’s novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson that’s a prequel to Barrie’s tale.

“Finding Neverland” has songs by composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie and a book by Allan Knee.  Knee’s 1990s play, “The Man Who Was Peter Pan,” was the source material that screenwriter David Magee adapted as the 2004 film, “Finding Neverland,” (pictured at top) starring Johnny Depp as Barrie.

J.M.Barrie1930WideWorldPhoto The first adapter of “Peter Pan” was Barrie himself (pictured in  1930): his tale debuted onstage in 1904, and he reworked it into the novel “Peter and Wendy” in 1911.

The other announced shows in the 2011-12 La Jolla season are a revival of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” Culture Clash’s “American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose,” about an immigrant cramming for his U.S. citizenship exam, and world premieres of “Milk Like Sugar,” Kristin Greenidge’s play about teen pregnancy, and “A Dram of Drummhicit,” a comedy by Arthur Kopit and Anton Dudley about supernatural forces disrupting a developer’s plans for an island off the Scottish coast.

One additional show remains to be announced; run dates have not yet been set.


PeterPanReturntoNeverlandDisneyEnterprises  One man's escape from the darkness of adulthood

Trapped in a Neverland not of their own choosing

In darkness, he sees the light

Poised to fly

One gifted actress and enchanting puppetry magically adapt the story of 'Peter Pan'

-- Mike Boehm

Photos: Johnny Depp wears the eye-patch in a scene from the film, "Finding Neverland" that also features Freddie Highmore, from left, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud, Kate Winslet and Luke Spill; J.M. Barrie in 1930. Credits: Miramax Films (Depp); World Wide Photo (Barrie).