Finding Neverland played its final performance on August 21, 2016 after running for over a year and earning no Tony Award nominations.
Harvey Weinstein’s Foray into Broadway Somewhat Successful
On August 21, 2016, Finding Neverland played its final performance on Broadway. Based on the 2004 feature film of the same name, as well as the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee, the musical had a book by James Graham, music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy. Perhaps more impressively, it was directed by Diane Paulus, the artistic director of American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Broadway directorial phenomenon whose previous credits include Hair, The Gershwins’Porgy & Bess, Pippin, and Waitress. The choreographer was Mia Michaels, the scenic designer was Scott Pask, the costume designer was Suttirat Anne Larlarb, the lighting designer was Kenneth Posner, and the sound designer was Jonathan Deans. When the show opened on April 15, 2015, following the start of previews on March 15, 2015, it received generally negative reviews. Ben Brantley of the New York Times condemned it for being full of triggers meant to elicit applause for simplistic moments of brand recognition. David Cote from Time Out New York called it garish, awkward, and manipulative. David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter called it bombastic and exhausting. Despite receiving such criticism along with a grand total of zero Tony Award nominations, the musical somehow survived for well over a year, and performed with moderate success at the box office.
A National Tour in October Followed by a Return to Broadway
Along with announcing the closure of this musical, the producers announced that a tour would launch on October 11, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. Furthermore, a film adaptation is planned, even though the musical was originally based off of a film, so presumably this will be a musical film adaptation. In addition, a London production is set to open in the spring of 2017. After completing the national tour, the touring production is also expected to make its way full circle back to Broadway, where it will hope to build upon the momentum of the tour to continue reaping in revenue. However, this formula was just exemplified to be ill-conceived by another show, Motown the Musical, which flopped on its Broadway return following its national tour. Although Motown had recouped its initial investment before embarking on tour, a feat that Finding Neverland cannot claim to have accomplished, it still failed to bring in sufficient box office revenue on the return production and closed after three weeks. As for Finding Neverland, the show’s buzz may have outweighed the negative reviews the first time around, but time will tell whether audiences will be hypnotized by brand recognition the second time.
Five Months in the Millionaires’ Club Didn’t Last
In the first full week after the show began previews on March 15, 2015, it entered the millionaires’ club. With only one exception until the week ending August 30, 2015, the show proceeded to stay in the millionaires’ club. Even though one of the biggest stars in the musical, Kelsey Grammer, left on June 28, 2015, ticketbuyers sustained their interest throughout all of last summer. However, shortly thereafter, the weekly grosses dipped to levels closer to $800,000 per week. Even when Kelsey Grammer re-entered the cast to reprise his role from January 19, 2016 to April 3, 2016, the grosses didn’t improve; they stayed at varying levels between $450,000 and $800,000, with a rare million dollar week. Therefore, as the summer of 2016 did not demonstrate renewed interest in the show despite recasting efforts, the decision was made to shutter the show and go on tour. With August 21, 2016 as the final performance, the Broadway run has lasted 565 performances plus 33 preview performances. Not too bad for Harvey Weinstein’s first attempt on Broadway, but not so great either.