A Broadway Hidden Gem - "Newsies"

Summer arts dispatch from NYC

"Newsies" is a little-known musical based on the 1992 live-action Disney movie that was essentially ignored for 10 years as a box office failure until its stage adaption by Disney Theatrical Productions in 2011. The musical debuted on Broadway in March after a run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

"Newsies" is a loose re-telling of the Newsboys Strike of 1899––a song and dance narrative of industrial action, pitting the impoverished newsboys of New York against their exploitative newspaper bosses. The musical features songs by Alan Menken (of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” fame)––upbeat numbers with the kind of chorus that pulls on your underdog’s-gotta-win heartstrings.

I went to see the production with my mother in May. The theater was packed with children and grandparents, shouting to each other and beaming with excitement. If you want a serious thespian experience in New York, my advice is to go see “Death of a Salesman” or the revival “Porgy and Bess,” not a G-rated Disney production.

At "Newsies", audiences are in for a rollicking good time, and that is what they’re going to get. The newsboys leap across the stage and scurry over the moving urban jungle set, delighting the young and the young at heart alike. When the “adults” in the production came onstage to sing about profit-making, I got a bit impatient––I just wanted to watch the dancers. Every time the chorus sang “Seize the Day” (three times including reprises) I punched my siblings’ arms in excitement. It got me going, all of that patriotism and togetherness.

Blogging from New York City, Virginia R. Marshall surveys the city's artistic heartbeat.

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