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Weinsteins pull the plug on 'Finding Neverland' musical at La Jolla Playhouse

July 18, 2011 | 10:00 am


"Finding Neverland," a planned stage musical based on the popular 2004 movie, has been officially grounded.

The La Jolla Playhouse said it was removing the musical from its 2011-12 schedule and replacing it with a revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" imported from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. The La Jolla Playhouse said "Finding Neverland" was canceled because Weinstein Co. withdrew from the project.

Weinstein Co. had been developing "Finding Neverland" for the stage through its Weinstein Live Entertainment division. Harvey and Bob Weinstein served as executive producers on the 2004 movie, which was produced by Miramax.

Their abrupt withdrawal from "Finding Neverland" comes just four months before it was scheduled to have its November world premiere at La Jolla. But Weinstein Co. isn't abandoning the musical altogther. On Monday, the company said that it is planning to workshop "Finding Neverland" in New York, but no dates have been set.

In recent years, the Weinsteins have been involved in a number of high-profile stage productions. They helped to turn the movie "Billy Elliot" into a successful musical that won 10 Tony Awards in 2009. They are reportedly exploring turning other movie properties -- including "Cinema Paradiso" and "Chocolat" -- into stage musicals.

"Finding Neverland" featured a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, and a book by Allan Knee. Rob Ashford was slated to direct.

The revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" will represent a homecoming of sorts for its director, Des McAnuff, who served as artistic director at the La Jolla Playhouse for many years. The production is rumored to be on the fast track to Broadway since opening to strong reviews at Stratford this year.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" will run Nov. 18 to Dec. 31. The cast includes Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Josh Young as Judas Iscariot and Tony-winner Brent Carver as Pontius Pilate.


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-- David Ng

Photo: A scene from the 2004 movie "Finding Neverland," with Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore. Credit: Miramax Films