British comedy 'Peter Pan Goes Wrong' plans spring Broadway bow

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British comedy 'Peter Pan Goes Wrong' plans spring Broadway bow
An undated photo provided by Alastair Muir shows a performance of “Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” which was staged in London’s West End in 2015 and 2016. The play is scheduled to hit Broadway in March 2023. (Alastair Muir via The New York Times)

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- Six years ago, Mischief Theatre arrived on Broadway from Britain with “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a madcap comedy about a hapless amateur theater company attempting to stage a whodunit.

That farce was a success, with outlandish physical comedy that led to a Tony Award for best set. A national tour was also successful, and a production has since been running off-Broadway.

Now, Mischief is planning a return to Broadway with “Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” a sort of sequel in which the same theater company attempts to stage J.M. Barrie’s beloved play about a boy who doesn’t grow up.

“Peter Pan Goes Wrong” is scheduled to start performances March 17 and to open April 19 at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theater. The play is planning a limited run of 16.5 weeks (the unorthodox run length reflects the company’s off-kilter brand).

The comedy has already had a rich production history — it opened at a small theater in London in 2013, toured Britain in 2014, ran in London’s West End over the Christmas seasons in 2015 and 2016, and was adapted for a BBC television special in 2016. The show’s North American journey began last year with productions in Edmonton, Alberta, and Vancouver, British Columbia. It has had generally positive reviews: The Vancouver Sun declared that the play “has absolutely no redeeming social value. But at its height it offers a gag about every 10 seconds, many of them hilarious.”

The play’s creators are Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, who also wrote “The Play That Goes Wrong”; the three will again star in their production. “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” features the same slapstick sensibility as the earlier play but has a bit more character development and an even crazier set.

“The fictional theater company is taking on a much more ambitious production, with flying, crocodiles and a revolving stage, and they put on the play with the same disastrous results,” Lewis said. “You get more behind the scenes into what’s going on with the characters, as well as all the farce and the madcap comedy.”

The writer-performers said they are looking forward to returning to Broadway and are mindful that the industry is in a very different place than it was when they were first there.

“Before the pandemic, you could say that our work was very silly and not that important,” Sayer said. “Now I think this kind of work is very important — there’s something very profound in silliness right now, because that’s something everybody needs after what we’ve all been through.”

The play is being produced by Kevin McCollum, Kenny Wax, Stage Presence and Catherine Schreiber. McCollum said he has been eager to transfer the show to Broadway for some time, believing that “people want to laugh.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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