Movie Lover (and thoughts on stagings) – Newsies

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March 11, 2015 by rachelcmann

I was a tween when Newsies won my heart. To the best of my recollection, Spot Collins (imdb has the name listed as Spot Conlon but…pshaw [and my friend and fellow Newsies lover agrees so there]) and Jack Kelly were my first crushes. I watched the movie a lot and to date if it comes on TV I stop what I’m doing and watch it (along with Anne of Green Gables and The American President, it’s a good thing I don’t have cable anymore). The movie, and love of the movie, is part of my generation’s DNA – and part of the reason I know that is because the guy in front me, sitting with his girlfriend in a beanie and henley tshirt, started pumping his fist, dancing in his seat and singing at full volume when the show started up with “The World Will Know.” (which I realized for the first time is referencing the newspaper “The World” and not, like…the world…)NEWSIES1-articleLarge

Like so many favorites, a box office flop became an at home favorite. And never one to miss out on a capitalization opportunity, Disney worked the movie into a staged musical (with high school’s in mind). Last night, I went to see the national tour of the now ‘Broadway acclaimed’ musical. They made some not-insignificant changes to the script (spoilers ahead) and tried to add some gender balance to the show. The love interest is no longer Davey’s sister, but a smart mouthed reporter (who is secretly Pulitzer’s daughter) and she replaces Bill Pullman’s Bryan Denton as the writer who gets them on the front page of the paper. I didn’t love the change but I did like the new female character’s moxie.

I had a lot of thoughts about the show, and some of them are kind of theater technical but I think it’s important to think about shows that are reinventions of movies (Shrek, Little Mermaid and Spiderman all come to mind as well) and how some things just can’t be morphed into a new medium. With a necessarily smaller cast, people play multiple roles which is fine most of the time but it lacks punch, ie when Spot makes his big entrance, it falls a little flat since we’ve seen him as a background newsie all along. {Sidenote: good job on more diverse casting though! Couple of Asian and African American newsies definitely helped represent New York’s culture at the time.}

While Christian Bale will forever be Jack Kelly, Jeremy Jordan launched the role on Broadway and his stamp is all over the new guy in the part. There are some actors who can never shed an iconic character, and there are characters who can never shed their original actors interpretations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it makes me wonder about the true ability of art to change mediums. The original is always going to have something that the new medium doesn’t have – can’t have – and we have to be so careful with interpreting things into their new form. There are certainly things I never want to see changed out of their original form, books and movies alike, because I think to do anything else to them would ruin their perfection (this is why I won’t see The Giver movie).

PS – [theater geek warning] the automation on this show is INCREDIBLE. Not only are there three moving 3-story platforms that spin with precision, they each have three automated projector screens that go up and down. And they did it all without a hitch. Truly impressive.

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About This Geek

I'm Rachel and I'm a geek. A nerd. A dork. Like most of us, I enjoy and consume a LOT of pop culture. This is my blog about things I like that I think you will like too.

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