Saturday, July 28, 2012

Disney On Broadway? Yes, If The Show Is Newsies!

The cast of Disney's Newsies perform "King of New York" on Broadway in New York City. Visit for ticket and performance information! 

We've never been fans of Disney on Broadway.
We've always felt that Disney is Disney and Broadway is Broadway: Two different kinds of stories, two different types of music, two different sorts of entertainment.
To us Disney always meant a genre rooted in fantasy and the tales of storybooks. So we skipped Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and the other Disney musicals on Broadway. Enjoyed the movies, no need to see the live show.
But now there is a new Disney musical on Broadway that changes all that.
Yes, it's a re-working of a Disney movie. But it's a movie you've probably never heard of or seen. And no, it's not a fantasy tale. Rather, it's based on actual real-life events.
The show is called Newsies, it's at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway and it's absolutely wonderful.
Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies revolves around the plight of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy who leads a ragged band of teen aged "newsies," who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. Newsies are the guys who used to hawk newspapers on street corners, shouting headlines and charming potential buyers. They thrived in the age of tabloids, a time when print was king.
The story takes flight when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense. Then, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right.
Of course, there are a few twists and turns (and some disappointments) along the way as this pioneering labor/management struggle ensues. And there's a bit of romance, too as Jack captivates the gorgeous and savvy newspaper reporter, Katherine Plummer.
Newsies is a fast-paced show with with jaw-dropping choreography, catchy songs by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Firestein that theatergoers of all ages can enjoy.
Yes, this is a feel-good family musical. But it's also actually meaningful and uplifting because it's anchored in a strong story with solid values. The show not only introduces Newsies to a new generation  but also pleases fans of the original 1992 film which did not get nearly enough attention when it was released. The Broadway production also includes many of the songs from the movie as well as new tunes and an added love story between Jack Kelly and the new character Katherine Plumber.
As Jack Kelly, Jeremy Jordan proves once again that he is one of Broadway's brightest new stars. This young man is incandescent on stage and when he sings "Santa Fe" at the end of of the first act he brings the house down. In her Broadway debut as Katherine, Kara Lindsay wows the audience with "Watch What Happens." She's a charmer. And Capathia Jenkins as Medda Larkin makes the whole stage sway with a ragtime beat as she performs "That's Rich."
Christopher Gattelli's inventive choreography is thumpingly athletic and leapingly airy, all at the same time. And Jeff Calhoun's direction is snappy without being breathless.
With a cast of 33, a multi-story scaffolded set, imaginative backdrops and evocative lighting, this is  big, Broadway musical production at its very best.
At the performance that we attended, the SRO audience howled with delight.
Go. See. Enjoy. And take the whole family!

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