Living in an era where news is delivered via technology, it is hard to image a point in time when newspapers were the only way to spread information and human beings were the only way to spread newspapers.
“Newsies The Musical,” a Disney Theatrical Productions stage musical based on the 1992 musical film “Newsies,” takes us back in time to an era where the newspaper delivery boys of New York City were a crucial component of the news process.
“Newsies the Musical” ran for over two years on Broadway, playing 1,005 performances. From 2014 through 2016, the musical toured nationally, with over 700 performances in 65 cities.
In late 2016, a live recording of “Newsies the Musical” was filmed on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., featuring a mix of stars from both the original Broadway and North American tour ensembles.
The live recording arrived in select cinemas on Thursday, providing fans a last chance to see the beloved “Newsies” musical before it is retired by Disney.
Taking place in 1899, “Newsies The Musical” follows the story of Jack Kelly and his clan of orphaned, homeless newsie friends and their battle against the publishers of the major New York City publications, which eventually leads to a citywide newsboys strike.
The film and the musical are based on the real-life event of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York, a youth-led campaign that changed the way that Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst compensated their child labor force of news deliverers.
The character of Kelly is also loosely based on the charismatic speech leader of the original strike, Kid Blink.
For the live-recording production shown in theaters, “Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical,” the role of Kelly was played by the charming and talented Jeremy Jordan.
Although 32-years-old, Jordan somehow managed to portray the perfect 17-year-old Kelly, a role he was born for.
Although he hadn’t played the role of Kelly since he left the Broadway show in 2012, Jordan portrayed the character as if he had played it in every show since opening night, never missing a line, note or step.
One of the more memorable songs from the score, Kelly’s soulful “Santa Fe,” is performed perfectly by Jordan, making the audience feel as if it too should escape the grit and grime of New York for the hopeful land out west.
Jordan was joined by his original cast member Kara Lindsay, who plays the love interest of Kelly, Katherine Plumber.
Lindsay captures the spunky determination of her character, and proves herself to be equally as charismatic as Jordan during their playful banter.
The character of Plumber is perhaps the best adaptation made from the film, creating a new storyline and presenting a fun yet predictable plot twist.
In the original “Newsies” film, Kelly’s love interest is the sister of another main character.
“Newsies The Musical” combines this love interest and a reporter character from the movie to create Plumber, a reporter from the New York Sun who is looking to make it big by breaking the story of the newsies strike, hoping to finally be taken seriously as a female reporter.
Plumber’s solo “Watch What Happens” combines humor and emotion to show what it was like as a female reporter during the time period, adding an extra message to the production.
Aside from Jordan and Lindsay, the live recording production of “Newsies the Musical” cast the best of the best from both the original Broadway and national tour ensembles.
Although not cast as specific characters, the actors chosen as newsies are the most important part of the show, collectively encompassing the voice of the thousands of newsies involved in the real strike of 1899.
The production does a fabulous job of making the dozen newsies appear as hundreds, with elaborate dance numbers like “Carrying the Banner,” “The World Will Know,” “King of New York” and “Brooklyn’s Here.”
“Seize the Day,” the most iconic and recognizable song from the score, is the best part of the show hands down.
The choreography of the number is amazing, showcasing the talents of each newsie in the ensemble and demonstrating the pure athleticism of the dancers as they flip and spin across the stage.
The choreography of the number creatively incorporates newspaper pages as a prop, as the dancers spin with pages beneath their feet.
It is no surprise that “Newsies the Broadway Musical” won two Tony awards for Best Choreograhy and Best Original Score because the best and most memorable parts of the show are the song and dance numbers.
A combination of an interesting storyline based on true events, an amazingly gifted cast, the catchiest songs and the most elaborate dance numbers make “Newsies the Musical” one of Disney’s best musicals, perhaps one of the best family musicals period.
The live recording of the production allows the audience to experience Newsies in a way that you could not live in person, even if you were sitting in the front row.
The camera work of the recording allows you to see each actor’s expression vividly, catching every tear and starry-eyed glance you might miss from your seat in the theater.
The live recording of “Newsies The Musical” gives fans an up-close view of their favorite show and provides this special production with the proper sendoff it deserves.
There will be one final showing of “Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical” at select Cinemark theaters across the country at 7 p.m. Wednesday, including the Cinemark Tinseltown 17 in Erie.
Tickets are available to purchase at https://www.cinemark.com/pennsylvania/tinseltown-usa#.