At the turn of the 20th century, newspapers became the main source of information for people. This event was a result of multiple factors, most especially because of the country’s highly decentralized cities and governing bodies. These separated functions and reach called for divided newspapers. From weekly publications, many newspaper agencies would then put out daily prints. The workforce that catered to the dissemination and selling of these newspapers were young boys who were called “newsboys.” Most of them were homeless children and heavily relied on the income they received from selling papers on the streets.
The epicenter of the print media boom was in New York. For this reason, thousands of newsboys from ages ten to thirteen go out of the streets, screaming headlines at the top of their lungs to make sure that they make ends meet. This period in history made for interesting happenings, which would inspire many works. Among these is the musical entitled Newsies, which brings to the stage the story of courage and revolution by youth against exploitative tycoons. History always proves that people find ways to overcome the oppressive forces they experience. The events that occurred in the musical based upon real events put forward the vigor of youth campaigns. In this retelling, young boys understood their rights and took it into their hands to inspire and overcome the challenges that they faced. Be inspired as Newsies bring a powerful message at the Sarofim Hall production at The Hobby Center.
Newsies Musical Tickets:
“This is a family show that’ll dazzle secondary schoolers and shake adults from their lethargy with its undeniable energy.” – Time Out
“Bombastic and balletic, this Broadway hit is a musical must-see.” – WhatsOnStage
In the 90s, Disney faced a resurgence of popularity as a response to their blockbuster animated film The Little Mermaid. Behind the success of this musical is the composition of Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. The success they received from the animated musicals gave them the idea to bring a similar formula to their live-action showcases. Menken and Ashman supposedly were the heart and soul of the development of this movie musical, but Ashman had to battle illness leaving Menken looking for a new partner to work with. He managed to get a hold of an amazing lyricist by the name of Jack Feldman. By this time, Feldman had also worked with Disney in one of their animated works and wrote lyrics for the biggest names in the music industry. Completing the team was Kenny Ortega, the director of the film.
The movie came out to many theatres nationwide in 1992. Sadly, it did not garner the praise and attention it aimed for. It was considered a blunder. However, with Disney Channel being a big part of children’s pastime during this time, Newsies was given the chance to have reruns on it. Many children fell in love with the movie, and slowly but surely, it gained a cult following.
The buildup of the Newsies fandom grew and grew for two decades. As an off-shoot of its popularity, many community theatres and schools created productions of it, which brought attention to Disney. This event catapulted the company to consider a remake of the musical, and this time, it will be on stage. Menken was approached to lead the stage adaptation, which he gladly accepted. To the joy of the development team, Feldman also agreed to come back. In 2012, the stage musical was ready to hit the theatres. Harvey Fierstein would then join them in writing the musical’s book. They sure did learn from their past mistake as they decided to have a try-out at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. The four weeks of performances were huge successes. They finally did manage to conduct the right way of the musical.
The movie and the musical followed similar plots. The story is based on the Newsboys’ strike of 1899. As the demand for more newspapers began due to the Spanish-American war, print agencies decided to hike up the price of their bundle (a hundred pieces of newspapers) from 50 cents to 60. Heavily affected by this change was the newsboys who bought these bundles and sold them to the public. Their working conditions were awful enough before the change and due to this, they needed to work day and night. This did not sit well with them. In July of that year, groups of newsboys decided to mess with the distribution of newspapers and announced their strike against World and Journal, run by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, respectively. This went on for weeks, disrupting the publishers’ output of newspapers. Rallies were conducted by the newsboys. By August, the World and Journal decided to create a comprise, which is to maintain the price change and buy back the unsold papers from the boys.
In this tale, the story’s protagonist is Jack Kelley, a seventeen-year-old newsboy, or newsy, as they call themselves. He leads other boys in their lodging house. He works with his friend Crutch. One day, while working, they met new newsies who were brothers Davey and Les. Unlike Jack and Crutch, the brothers have a home and a loving family and are temporarily working because their father cannot work because of an injury. Davey and Les, having barely any knowledge of how to become newsies, were mentored by Jack. The next day, the change in bundle pricing hit the newsies, which propelled them to do strikes.
“An energetic ensemble charges in and out of the audience, swings on giant lightbulbs and covers a stage floor smudged with newsprint…” – The Guardian
After the Paper Mill Playhouse run, the musical immediately transferred to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre. After it closed, the musical’s national tour commenced. In 2022, a London production opened at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.
During the 2012 Tony Awards, Newsies garnered eight nominations. It won two awards in the categories of Best Choreography and Best Original Score. In 2013 the musical received a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. On the other hand, the London production won Best Theatre Choreographer during the 2023 Laurence Olivier Award.
Newsies will come to the Sarofim Hall at The Hobby Center this May 21 to June 2. The cast will be announced soon. You can now get tickets for these performances. Click the Get Tickets link to proceed.