I first heard of Newsies when it got to Broadway in 2012. I had never even heard of the 1992 movie of the same name and story that featured a young Christian Bale in the lead role until last year. In fact, I only knew about the musical because Evan Kasprzak, my favorite season five So You Think You Can Dance contestant and one of my all-time favorite dancers, was originating a role in the show. Once I found that out, I instantly knew I wanted to see it.
I never got to watch him, though—let alone the show when it was on Broadway. It wasn’t until last August that I watched Newsies: The Broadway Musical for the first time.
I found out that Fathom Events was showing a filmed version of the show in select movie theaters nationwide, and I jumped at the chance to watch it. At the time, I was still living in New York, and I rarely went out after work unless it was Friday. But I made an exception for Newsies and went to a showing after work one Wednesday.
The filmed version was done in 2016 and featured main original cast members and a mix of Broadway production and touring production ensemble members, so Evan Kasprzak wasn’t even in it. But it was okay, because I ended up really enjoying it anyway. This was right before I got super into Broadway, but, when I moved back to the Chicago suburbs, I purchased the digital version of Newsies on Amazon so I could watch it with my sister, Amanda, who hadn’t seen it yet.
Now, nearly a year later, we absolutely love the musical and have probably watched it nearly 20 times in less than a year.
On Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28, Fathom Events is showing a summer encore of Newsies: The Broadway Musical in select theaters nationwide, and it’s a fun, energetic musical that you shouldn’t miss for multiple reasons. And, if you can’t make either of those days, no worries. Newsies is available on Netflix and can be purchased on Amazon.
A musical set in 1899 Lower Manhattan doesn’t sound like something many people today should be able to relate to, but it’s more relevant to the present time than you might think.
For one, it’s a musical all about how kids have a voice, can use it, be heard, and truly make a difference—something we’re seeing a lot more of these days. Even better, Newsies is based on the true story of the 1899 newsboy strike, so it’s not just a realistic story that was made up. It’s an artistic, stylized version of an achievement kids were responsible for, a difference that kids actually made. It’s also a great example of how powerful a united group of people can be and what it can accomplish: change.
With the addition of Katherine Plumber to the musical, Newsies has a strong, independent, intelligent female character who adds some depth to the story. She knows what she wants and works to get it. Katherine makes herself heard even when others try to limit her. Girl power is something more and more girls and women are embracing nowadays, and Katherine Plumber exudes it.
Tony-Award Winning Choreography
The first time I saw Newsies was when I watched it at a movie theater last August. I didn’t instantly love it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the choreography in it was a big reason why. In fact, it was probably what I was in most awe of after first seeing it.
With leaps, tumbling, and turns, the choreography is filled with difficult moves that require immense technique and skill. The ensemble absolutely shines partially because they get to showcase its ability to perform such intricate movement effortlessly. They even do some dancing on newspapers—Michael Dameski’s fouettes into an illusion turn at the end of “Seize the Day” is the best dance element of the entire show. The second act even opens with a fun, energetic tap number—and I’m a sucker for a good tap routine.
Furthermore, Newsies choreographer Christopher Gattelli won the 2012 Tony Award for “Best Choreography,” so there should be no doubt that the choreography in the show is exceptional.
Tony-Award Winning Score
If you like the music in Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, and/or Tangled, chances are you’ll enjoy the music in Newsies, because Alan Menken is responsible for the music in all of those. He’s also responsible for the music in the original Newsies movie that featured Christian Bale.
For the most part, the music in the Broadway musical is the same as in the movie. Some songs were added and rewritten for the Broadway show. He collaborated with lyricist Jack Feldman to develop the songs in Newsies. Like all the work Menken has done for Disney, the music in Newsies is fun. Feldman’s playful and meaningful lyrics match Menken’s catchy music so well that the songs will find a place in your head and make you wish you knew the words—if you don’t know them already—so you could sing along. In fact, the tandem of Feldman and Menken for Newsies was so successful that it won them the 2012 Tony Award for “Best Original Score.”
I didn’t know about Jeremy Jordan before Newsies, but I’m kind of glad that’s the case. Because it meant experiencing Jeremy Jordan’s portrayal of Jack Kelly was the first time I saw him act. His performance was phenomenal, and he embodied the character so well—so it’s no wonder Jack Kelly was his breakout role.
Jeremy Jordan does a tremendous job of capturing Jack Kelly’s charisma, charm, toughness, and innate leadership. He also has a magnificent, powerful singing voice. With the combination his acting and singing chops, Jeremy Jordan is a commanding force onstage that demands the audience’s attention—and he does so without doing any difficult choreography. In fact, watching Jeremy Jordan in Newsies made me a fan of his and prompted me to check out the other work he has done.
Or maybe you’re like my brother and had seen Jeremy Jordan act before in the television show Supergirl. He’s great in there as well but doesn’t have his full potential utilized in it—and I don’t say that just because he doesn’t sing in the show. But when I had my brother first watch Newsies with me, he was thoroughly impressed by the sheer amount of talent Jeremy Jordan has.
Newsies wonderfully showcased Jeremy Jordan’s talent and proved that he truly belongs on Broadway. After all, he received a 2012 Tony Award nomination for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical” for his portrayal of Jack Kelly.
Featured image via Disney
GIFs from videos via Fathom Events and Disney