Last week I got to see the first Broadway preview of Newsies and am delighted to say, it was phenomenal. It’s quite honestly the best “song and dance” musical I’ve seen in years.
And though it may seem blasphemy to some, I have to confess it was much better than the Disney film that inspired it.
The story itself is largely unchanged: in 1899, young boys selling newspapers on the streets of New York went on strike when Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst decided to raise their wholesale prices to the newsies. (Yes, this is a true story.)
The 1992 Disney film Newsies didn’t initially do well in theaters, but has since gained something of a cult following. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Nederlander Theatre last Thursday night, where half of the audience members who were under the age of 30 were dressed in costume. There was a young “newsie” sitting next to me in a classic newsie outfit, cap and all, who I didn’t realize until intermission was actually a girl. (Her father and sisters were all dressed in costume as well.)
That, to me, is the clearest indication of the continued following of the film. Many of the kids in costume at the theatre had not yet even been born when the movie came out, and yet here they were, visibly demonstrating their love for the movie.
They weren’t disappointed by the stage production: the thunderous applause the cast received after the opening number quite literally stopped the show for a solid two minutes. And at one point in the first act, there was actually a standing ovation in the theatre. A standing ovation in the middle of the first act.
Here’s a quick preview:
The vocal and dance talents of this cast clearly eclipsed that of the film actors, in my opinion. And to anyone who is so enraptured by the movie that they are offended, consider this: the movie used mostly child actors, who had to sing and dance well enough to get at least one good take on film. The Broadway cast uses older actors (who can at least pass as teenagers) that are trained to sing and dance well enough to do this flawlessly eight times a week.
These are quite honestly amazingly talented performers, whose skills and song and dance are breathtaking. Their dancing incorporating gymnastics, ballet, martial arts, and other techniques, and their vocals were top notch. I’m eagerly looking forward to the release of the cast album.
Newsies runs through August 19th at the Nederlander Theatre. The tickets are expensive — even the cheap seats are $93 each — but it’s a phenomenal show, and absolutely worth every penny if you are a fan of musical theatre and/or the original Newsies.