In 1992, Disney released a live action movie musical about the Newsboy Strike of 1899. If this seems like an unlikely topic for a musical, you’d be in agreement with audiences and critics, because Newsies failed at the box office. But the music by Disney-favorite Alan Menken, choreography by Kenny Oretega, and a very young Christian Bale (yes, Batman) made this movie a cult hit when it was released on home video.
For years, rumors circulated that Menken was working on bringing this cult classic to the stage. Then finally, in 2011, it happened. Newsies opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011. It featured new songs by Menken, a book by Harvey Fierstein, and a cast of highly athletic and talented newsboys…I mean dancers.
The musical differed slightly from the movie, with Jack Kelly’s, the leader of the Newsboys, love interest and the intrepid reporter who helps get the newsboys story in the papers combined into one new character. Some songs, such as “Lovey, Dovey Baby”, were cut from the stage musical. New numbers, such as “Watch What Happens”, were added.
In March of 2012, the production transferred to Broadway for a limited engagement. It was set to close in June of that year, but sold out productions and huge demand for tickets prompted Disney to extend the run into August. Later, this was extended to an open-ended run. The show also opened to critical acclaim and was nominated for 8 Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor for Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly). It won 2, Best Choreography and Best Original Score.
The production played 1,005 performances before closing in August of 2014. Two months later, it began a US national tour that is still playing around the country.
Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the cast of this sensation. Until then, stay Disney.
TMSM is thrilled to give it’s readers a chance to experience it’s new series “From Mouse to Marquee” written by Addie Clark. If you have missed out on any segments of “Mouse to Marquee” you can find them all here in our archives.
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