EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! EXTRA!
Love that I can use this iconic proclamation to joyfully announce the cinematic release of the 2011 Broadway musical “Newsies” on February 16th.
So listen up and SEIZE THE DAY!
Go to this film expecting a great night at the theater – because that is exactly what you will get – a great night at the theater! Yes, of course, it is a movie, but this actual live show, taped at the renowned Pantages Theater in Hollywood – is so cleverly filmed as to make you think otherwise. The camera welcomes the live audience by capturing all its shouts, hoots, laughter and well-deserved explosions of applause. They even cue us as to what to expect on stage as you physically feel the audience’s anticipation of those landmark production numbers about to roll out. It’s far more of an exciting visceral experience than a stage to screen event. The theater audience is directly in our view and revealed at key points thru sweeping wide camera shots. This establishes an interesting sense of fooling you into thinking you are actually there – sort of like cinematic “trompe d’oeil.” But unlike live theater, it doesn’t matter where you sit during this cinematic viewing, you have a great vantage point. With such intimate camera close-ups, you really appreciate the intricacies of the set, the dancer’s steps, and the pathos in the performances. There’s nothing like live theater, but this stage to screen experience is surely the next best thing.
Like so many others, I first encountered this true account of “Newsies” via the 1992 Disney film musical starring a young Christian Bale as the hero newsie, Jack Kelly, in which we learn the story of the infamous NYC newsboy strike of 1899. Yet oddly, this film was not your typical Disney blockbuster- far from. Perhaps too gender unbalanced? Maybe Disney fans were not quite ready for a true slice of history after so many associations with fairy tales and classic children’s stories? Yet over the years, there was a passion for this film (and its soaring score) underlying the initial low box office numbers. Never underestimate “word of mouth” – and Disney knows how to listen. A “Newsies” cult sprang up and steadily multiplied. The energetic Alan Menken/Jack Feldman score was surely one to remember alongside “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” but adding a fast, fun level of dance which we had not seen in Disney’s animated features. So we all shared our admiration by purchasing the VHS then the DVD. There was certainly lots of buzz over the years – almost a populist movement – for a live presentation. Finally, an idea whose time had come, and we were all thrilled to hear it was headed to NJ’s Paper Mill Playhouse with a keen eye on Broadway. Christopher Gatelli’s stage choreography and Harvey Fierstein’s crisp writing helped pave the way for award-winning success on the Great White Way almost 20 years after the fact.
The lead performers are superb, especially Jeremy Jordan, and many of the performers hail from the original Broadway cast and touring company. But I would be a cheat if I did not single out “the line” – those spirited, gifted dancers. THEY ARE AMAZING. No one works harder than a Broadway gypsy. Thanks to Gatell’s muscular, gravity-defying choreography – with gymnastic movements that rival Olympians – the men are quickly separated from the boys in this testosterone-fueled show. Truth be told, some of these fabulous dancers are perhaps a tad older than your average newsboy, but so what? Then again, are there any “newsboys” left to deliver what is a disappearing medium – the AMERICAN DAILY NEWSPAPER? But I assure you that the AMERICAN MUSICAL is fully alive and well represented by “Newsies.” Newsboys may no longer move papers, but this fine cast of newsies sure knows how to move an audience – especially to its feet!
So if you missed “Newsies” on the Broadway stage, “seize the day.” Now is your chance. Go to newsiesthemusical.com and Fathom Events for more information as to locales, show dates, and times.
And to further seal the deal, it takes place entirely in our beloved NYC … need I say more?!
What do you think of Newsies being brought back to the theater? Tell us in the comments below!
By: Joanne Theodorou