Move over Billy Elliot, there’s a new Broadway musical about strikes. Newsies, which opens in previews tonight at the Nederlander Theatre and runs through June 10 (as of now…), is the musical version of the 1992 film of the same name. Now, I am not a Newsies the movie fanatic, I’ve actually never seen it. But I did see a dress rehearsal of Newsies last night, and if you can attend one musical this spring, my advice is to see this production—the songs are catchy and the dancing is fabulous. Take your students; it’s a show no dancer should miss.
This Disney production centers on the struggles of poor children who sell newspapers in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. When the evil Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the price of papers for the Newsies, the kids band together and take a stand. Your students will learn a bit of history and economics, and leave the theatre inspired to take ballet class.
The dancing, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, is remarkable—and that’s an understatement. It’s a cast of almost all men, including So You Think You Can Dancers Alex Wong, Evan Kasprszak, Thayne Jasperson and Jess LeProtto, and a former Ailey II dancer, Juilliard student, Joffrey Ballet Ensemble guy and more. It’s masculine, balletic and acrobatic—think a more-showy West Side Story. There’s even a tap number.
Although you fall in love with every Newsie on stage—they’re funny, brilliant dancers and talented singers—the leader of the pack, Jack Kelly, played by Jeremy Jordan, steals the show. This Newsie isn’t a Broadway newbie, but his compelling and fervent performance will really put this Ithaca College grad on the map. Christian Bale, who?
What’s unique about this show is the cast is extremely young. (Yes, there are a few older actors who play adult characters, but an overwhelming majority of performers are under 26.) There are 12 cast members making their Broadway debut—which the director Jeff Calhoun passionately announced before the show—and their fresh excitement and energy is palpable. You can tell that this is not just another job for them; this is it. Which, in a show about young men putting everything on the line for something they believe in, works extremely well.
More info: www.newsiesthemusical.com.
Photo of Jeremy Jordan in Newsies, by broadway.com