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Behind the scenes with ‘Finding Neverland’

ART artistic director Diane Paulus and Jeremy Jordan at rehearsal for “Finding Neverland” at Farkas Hall in Cambridge.
ART artistic director Diane Paulus and Jeremy Jordan at rehearsal for “Finding Neverland” at Farkas Hall in Cambridge.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

We caught up with some of the folks working on the new musical “Finding Neverland,” now in previews at the American Repertory Theater, among them Gary Barlow, lead singer for the British pop group Take That, who wrote the music and lyrics with longtime creative partner Eliot Kennedy.

“I got a call one night from a guy called Harvey Weinstein,’’ Barlow says of the film titan who is producing the show. “I thought, ‘I am going to be in the movies with Tom Cruise!’ ”

Weinstein has a reputation for being a hands-on boss, and he did not disappoint while Barlow and Kennedy were writing.


“Harvey will tell you he co-wrote all the songs,” Barlow joked.

The musical, helmed by ART artistic director Diane Paulus, tells the story of how playwright J.M. Barrie became inspired to write “Peter Pan.” Kennedy told us he’s particularly fond of a song featuring Captain Hook.

“I have lived and breathed Captain Hook,’’ he says. To which Barlow adds, “Every now and then, [Kennedy] turns into Hook. He does it in restaurants.”

In the show, Jeremy Jordan (NBC’s “Smash,” Broadway’s “Newsies: The Musical”) stars as Barrie, who meets the widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her brood of boys. One of Jordan’s favorite moments in the show is when actress Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays Sylvia, sings the boys to sleep.

“I think, God, it must be amazing to have a mother like that,” said Jordan.

Michael McGrath, the Tony Award-winning actor who plays Hook, said the moment reminds him of putting his daughter, now 19, to bed. “I sang musical theater songs to her at night,’’ he told us. “She had a request list. I would say, ‘It’s time to go to sleep,’ and she would say, ‘I want an encore.’’’

Many of those involved in the show say they’re rediscovering their inner child — or inner Peter Pan. Choreographer Mia Michaels, who works on “So You Think You Can Dance,” put it this way: “Every time I get stuck, I say, “What would my 8-year-old Mia do?’ This project is telling me to get to know her again.”


Patti Hartigan can be reached at pattihartigan@gmail.com.