Surprise celebrities added their applause to a rapturous standing ovation for the world premiere of Finding Neverland.
Hundreds of people packed out Curve to see the opening night of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s production.
The show premiered on Saturday night and included two unexpected star guests – U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge – who had been invited by Mr Weinstein.
Mr Weinstein said:”We were so honoured that Bono and Edge came to see our first preview of Finding Neverland in Leicester. There was real excitement amongst the cast to meet them backstage after the show. I came to see Bono’s show Spiderman in New York during previews, and he was a really good friend to come and see my first show here in Leicester.”
Speaking to the cast on stage after the show, Bono said: “Can I just say how nauseating it is to see it go so well. That was amazing.”
The musical, about Peter Pan author JM Barrie, received whistles and cheers as the curtain fell and the Irish superstars got to their feet with the rest of the audience to give the cast a standing ovation.
Joss Paine, 18, from Thurnby, had to take a second after finding himself in the same row as Bono.
He said: “It was a bit surreal. I spotted him quite early on and had to look twice.”
The show is inspired by the 2004 film Finding Neverland, based on the Scottish writer JM Barrie.
It tells the story of his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and friendship with her four young sons, who inspire the magical world of Peter Pan.
Maggie Friswell, 63, from Burbage, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. The singing was superb – in fact, everything was fantastic.
“I’ve been to London, to the West End to see shows, but this was just amazing – the technical bits were really impressive.”
Stephen Smith, 61, from Stoke Golding, near Hinckley, said: “Brilliant. It was really good.
“For the show to premiere here in Leicester really says something about the city and the theatre.”
Pam Hillyard, 74, from Thurmaston, was sat in front of the show’s producer Harvey Weinstein but didn’t know until her daughter told her.
She said: “I had no idea who he was, but I thought the whole show was fantastic.
“It really captured the essence of the story and the time in which it was set.
“The set and music was amazing.”
The musical attracted audience members from all over the world.
American Bill Rummer had travelled from London to see the opening night of the show.
The 40-year-old said: “I thought it was beautiful and moving, it was fantastic.
“I’m originally from Los Angeles and I’m in London at the minute, but I had to come up here when I heard it was a Harvey Weinstein premiere.”
Bill was not the only overseas admirer of the production.
Australian Craig Rohlf, 39, had also made his way up from London for the show.
He said: “It’s my first time here and I am really impressed.
“It’s not every day you see a world premiere of a big show like this.”
British stage and screen actor Julian Ovenden plays JM Barrie, while West End actress Rosalie Craig takes the role of Sylvia.
The show, directed and choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Rob Ashford, runs until October 13.
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