John Legend, Rita Ora, Nick Jonas and Glee star Matthew Morrison will contribute performances Finding Neverland (Songs From The Musical), a compilation due April 21 to accompany the Broadway debut of Finding Neverland on April 15. Featuring music and lyrics by Gary Barlow (Take That) and Eliot Kennedy, the album is a unique approach to the typical "cast album" (though an official one will be released separately, featuring vocals from Kelsey Grammer, Laura Michelle Kelly and Glee's Morrison, who will co-star).
"When I first heard Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy's bold and exciting music for Finding Neverland, I loved the mix of their contemporary sound with this classic and timeless story," says Harvey Weinstein, a producer of the musical and the album. "This album is a great opportunity to have some of today's most popular and innovative recording artists help introduce the music to the world."
By fusing contemporary artists with an original Broadway score, Finding Neverland (Songs From The Musical) harkens back to Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida album in 1999, which enlisted the likes of Sting, Shania Twain, Janet Jackson, Spice Girls and Lenny Kravitz to perform songs from the accompanying musical months before its official premiere, and scored a radio hit from John's duet with LeAnn Rimes, "Written In The Stars" (which peaked at No. 29 on the Hot 100.)
Tom Mackay, exec vp, West Coast and general manager at Republic, who oversaw the label's hit soundtracks for Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games, says the Finding Neverland album was designed as a similar cross-platform marketing tool. "In essence, fans of these artists will discover the story and the play in a way they wouldn't have otherwise, and on the flipside, fans of the play will discover some of these artists in a way they might not have in their daily lives. That made for a cool challenge to find talent with the wide range that these songs require."
The compilation was previewed over the weekend at The Weinstein Company's annual pre-Oscar gala, where Ora performed "Play" and Morrison performed "Neverland." Says Ora, who will next be seen as an actress in Weinstein's boxing drama Southpaw later this year, "I'm thrilled to be a part of Finding Neverland. It's such an honor to have the opportunity to work with Harvey again and I'm proud to be a part of such a creative, new and innovative idea."
Expect additional artists both on and off the Republic roster to be announced in the coming weeks. Mackay says the compilation is "85% complete" in terms of recording and artist curation. "We're really starting to see this thing take shape in a holistic sense, and I'm really proud with the caliber of talent and performances we've gotten thus far."
Finding Neverland is based on the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, written by David Magee and starring Johnny Depp, and the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, written by Allan Knee. The musical explores playwright J.M. Barrie's relationship with the real-life family that inspired the "Peter Pan" story. Diane Paulus will direct the Broadway adaptation, and said in a statement, "I am always looking for ways the theater can reach a broader audience, and to have all these incredible recording artists re-imagining the songs from our show is thrilling."