BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Is Gwyn headed for Neverland



21:51 GMT, 26 April 2012

Debut: Paltrow could be set for her first stage musical

Debut: Paltrow could be set for her first stage musical

Gwyneth Paltrow is being wooed to star in her first stage musical.

The Oscar-winning actress has been asked to consider portraying Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, whose four sons befriended J.M. Barrie and inspired him to write Peter Pan.

The show is called Finding Neverland, which will play ‘outta town’ at the Curve Theatre in Leicester in September, with a view to moving into the West End, probably next year.

If Ms Paltrow agrees to do the show she will join leading man Julian Ovenden, who portrayed Barrie in workshop productions.

Finding Neverland is based on the 2004 film of the same name which starred Johnny Depp as Barrie and Kate Winslet as Sylvia.

Film impresario Harvey Weinstein was behind the movie and he and his associate Victoria Parker are driving the stage version, too, with top director and choreographer Rob Ashford.

Finding Neverland’s creative team also includes Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, who are responsible for the score and lyrics, with a book by Allan Knee — who also wrote the movie.

They are re-working and tightening the book which, at times, seemed leaden during workshop productions.

Knee must also remove all American expressions from what is, after all, a wholly British story. The team is tinkering with the score, too, in hopes of producing some more hummable tunes.

Getting Ms Paltrow to do the musical is a long shot — but it’s not totally out of the question when you consider the enormous pleasure she derived from singing several numbers when she guest-starred as relief teacher Holly Holiday on Glee, and performed on the Grammy Awards show.

She also played a troubled country & western star in the melodramatic (but entertaining) movie Country Strong, which required her to sing several robust numbers.

So there’s no doubt she can sing — but will she want to do eight shows a week One option could be for her to do six, with an alternate left to perform the other two.

Paltrow appeared on stage in David Auburn’s Proof at the Donmar Warehouse a decade ago.

But the key to getting her for this project is Weinstein, who has known her for years and was instrumental in helping secure her a best actress Academy Award when she appeared in the 1998 film Shakespeare In Love.

Last week, other actresses were auditioned for the role of Sylvia just in case Paltrow says ‘No’.

She, by the way, is in The Avengers film on screens now, and next month she shoots Iron Man 3.

Royal wedding with a difference
Lead role: Anne-Marie Duff

Lead role: Anne-Marie Duff

Anne-Marie-Duff will play a queen stuck in the middle of an unrequited love triangle.

The award-winning star will take the title role in Berenice, the story of a Palestinian queen who waits for the Roman emperor Titus to come and marry her.

‘It’s the story of this woman who has put her life on hold for this man,’ said Josie Rourke, the Donmar Warehouse’s artistic chief, who will direct the play.

Jean Racine’s five-act tragedy has been adapted by Alan Hollinghurst, who won the Man Booker prize for The Line Of Beauty, and it will run at the Donmar in the West End from September 27 through to November 24.

Titus loves Berenice passionately, but the Roman people turn against the union and he has to man up and tell her the wedding’s off. Meanwhile, Antiochus, the King of Commagene, is also in love with Berenice.

‘She is an incredibly charismatic and loyal woman,’ Ms Rourke explained, adding that politics gets in the way of love.

Before Berenice begins its run, the Donmar will stage Brian Friel’s poignant comedy Philadelphia, Here I Come.

It’s about a young man called Gar, from the fictional village of Ballybeg in County Donegal, and takes place on the night before he is due to depart for Philadelphia. Rourke calls it a play about ‘youth, hope and ambition’.

I remember a production that Dan Crawford directed at the King’s Head, with Brendan Coyle and Jonathan Arun playing the public and private sides of Gar’s character, and it struck me as a bittersweet piece about a father and son unable to communicate with each other.

Anyway, this time round, Rory Keenan will play the private Gar, and Paul Reid the public Gar.

Lyndsey Turner will direct the play, which will run at the Donmar from July 26 as, Ms Rourke said, a counterpoint to the Olympics.

Royal friendship with a difference

Well, it’s clearly the start of a beautiful friendship between Robert Redford and the Prince of Wales.

The legendary actor, director and founder of the Sundance Institute And Festival told me how he and Prince Charles have been corresponding, indirectly, for years.

‘I’ve been involved in the environment for 35 years, and so has he — we’ve had that connection, without having met,’ Redford told me when we chatted at a splendid cocktail reception this week, hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to London, Louis B. Susman, and his wife Marjorie.

Allies: Robert Redford has struck up a friendship with Prince Charles

Allies: Robert Redford has struck up a friendship with Prince Charles

Redford finally met the Prince a few months ago in London and he viewed a film HRH has narrated called Harmony: A New Way Of Looking At Our World. It’s directed by Stuart Sender and Julie Bergman and charts the Prince’s interest in the environment.

Redford has included it in the Sundance Film And Music Festival at the 02. Harmony will have a special screening tomorrow in the presence of Redford and the Prince.

‘I don’t know what a typical prince is,’ said Redford, ‘but I like him very much because he has a wonderful sense of humour, a great sense of fun and he’s also a serious man — in the right way.’

I joked that perhaps Redford could portray Charles on screen. He laughed and pointed to his jacket and tie and said: ‘I’d have to get my clothing altered to something smarter.’

The festival features several films from American directors and they include Liberal Arts by Josh Radnor and LUV by Sheldon Candis.