After Disney’s Newsies faced incredible success on Broadway a few years ago, the company offered fans worldwide a chance like no other: to see the hit Broadway musical in local theaters.
The benefit to anything Disney is the huge funds behind it. And it holds true for this film. The stunning shots and incredible stagework all lead back to good ole Disney. The exact history of Newsies is not known by many, but the story of its journey to Broadway is an inspiring one.
A brief history of the iconic musical
Newsies premiered as a movie-musical in 1992, directed by Kenny Ortega and starring a very youthful Christian Bale. Although the show bombed in the box office, it became a popular classic through its home video following. After continuing pressure from fans, Disney created a stage version to be used for licensing purposes by schools and community theaters. In 2011, it premiered at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey — and people went wild. Critics loved it and fans just couldn’t get enough. Then, in 2012, the show comes to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre for a limited run, which is so successful that it, in turn, led to an open run that went for a little over two years.
During this time, it won two Tony Awards and “[recouped] its initial investment in the fastest time for a Disney production,” closing “in 2014 after 1,005 performances,” according to Laughing In Place.
The show also announced that its tours would be finishing up. But then a bright light shined from the darkness: Disney announced that it would be recording the musical in Los Angeles with the original cast. Many who had seen the show were not lucky enough to see it with the original cast, so many were excited by this news particularly.
Why fans are loving this show
The idea behind this is a smart, but pretty new move on Disney’s part. We’ve seen stage-like productions that have been filmed and released for viewing (the premiere of Grease Live! on Fox last year, for example). But nothing compares to this. Not only is this filmed on a stage in a real theatre in front of a live audience, it is also beautifully done. Fathom Events partnered with Disney Theatrical Productions to bring to life a performance like no other.
While not all of the original cast is back, many of the staples are all there: Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly, Kara Lindsay as Katherine Plumber, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie, and Ben Fankhauser as Davey Jacobs. Non-original cast members were brought in, one of which is standing out to numerous fans. Ben Cook, who played Race in the original cast of the national tour, resumed his role. The cigar-smoking, fast-acting character was a favorite; his attitude and sass matching Ben Cook’s swagger and acting skills.
The hashtag #NewsiesForever trended on Twitter on Saturday, with numerous viewers applauding the film.
Many find that the musical speaks well to our time — a day and age fraught with arguments over equal rights. People reported that lead Jeremy Jordan weighed in on this aspect of Newsies.
“It’ll be interesting to see the kind of effect the story has now — the newsboys striking and the underdog of fighting for equal rights. It’s always been a very inspiring, empowering story. But now it could have a different kind of effect.”
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who plays Crutchie, did not star in the original Papermill Playhouse production of Newsies, but came on for the original Broadway show. Keenan-Bolger said that he finds the musical inspirational, and is not surprised that it continues to inspire others.
“Newsies changed a lot of people’s lives, not just ours. Much like our show, the older generations underestimated a young generation’s power to mobilize. It was these young Fansies that demanded it have the vital life that it’s had.”
To find showings near you, check out the Newsies site here.
[Feature Image via Disney Theatrical Productions]