In reaction to a piece written by New York Post journalist Michael Riedel criticizing the new musical Finding Neverland, the producers of the show found out that Riedel had not seen the show and had been writing speculatively.
Riedel was invited by producer Harvey Weinstein to come to the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge and see the show for himself. Weinstein set Riedel a challenge: if less than 80% of the audience did not love the show, Weinstein would do the ALS ice bucket challenge. However if 80 percent or more of the audience loved it, Riedel would have ice dumped on him. The show was surveyed and the results were verified by accounting firm Ernst and Young.
A resounding 96 percent of the audience voted they loved the show and so Riedel, watched by a large crowd that gathered, was elegantly doused by Weinstein.
In an impromptu conversation with Riedel after the show, Weinstein joked that Riedel should stay in Boston to have a heart operation—to have a heart put IN. Weinstein challenged Riedel to champion the theater in his column and the hard work done by actors, directors and producers. He encouraged Riedel to see shows, to understand the process, rather than annihilate with bitchy gossip.
Riedel was a good sport and was charming and gracious. He admitted to giving the producers of Wicked the wrong advice when they opened out of town that they should probably not proceed with the production.
In a move to support the charity, Weinstein said he would write a $50,000 check for ALS.
Weinstein and director Diane Paulus announced on Friday that Finding Neverland will open on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 8, 2015. This announcement comes on the heels of Finding Neverland’s sold-out, world-premiere engagement at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, which ended yesterday. The production began previews at the Loeb Drama Center on Wednesday, July 23, and ran for a total of 75 performances – all of which played to capacity crowds, making it the highest attended and highest grossing production in A.R.T.’s 34-year history. Finding Neverland will begin preview performances on Broadway in March, 2015. Casting will be announced shortly.
“I am so grateful to A.R.T. and its audiences for providing the perfect environment to incubate this new musical,” Mr. Weinstein said. “We are excited to continue the work and bring the musical to Broadway audiences this spring. I know that the Lunt-Fontanne, which has housed so many memorable productions, will be the ideal home for Finding Neverland.”
Based on the Miramax motion picture by David Magee and the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee, Finding Neverland follows the relationship between playwright J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up – one of the most beloved stories of all time.