NEW YORK (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's theater division, which has enjoyed big success with productions like "The Lion King," has commissioned its first original Broadway show, a prequel to "Peter Pan," producers said on Wednesday.
The musical, entitled "Peter and the Starcatcher" and based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's novel of the same name, is expected to open in spring 2012 at a Broadway theater, Disney Theatrical Productions said.
It is being written by Tony nominee Rick Elice, who currently has two musicals on Broadway, "The Addams Family" and the Tony-winning "Jersey Boys."
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers will direct the show in which 12 actors will play some 50 characters telling the story of how Peter Pan became the boy who would not grow up.
The show had a well-received, award-winning run earlier this year at the Off Broadway New York Theater Workshop, starring Christian Borle as the pirate who in "Peter Pan" becomes Captain Hook, and Adam Chanler-Berat as the boy Peter.
The New York Times raved that the original "sustains a breathless air of adventure and a cocky confidence in its powers to enchant," and praised its combination of "grown-up theatrical savvy and a child's wonder."
No casting for the new Broadway musical has been announced.
Disney has enjoyed a strong record on Broadway since entering the risky arena with the smash hit "Beauty and the Beast," which opened in 1994 and continues to play to packed houses.
"The Lion King" in 1997 was an even greater success, sweeping the Tonys and becoming Broadway's hottest ticket for a time.
Other Disney productions have included "The Little Mermaid" and "Tarzan," which closed after only 14 months.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Bob Tourtellotte)