The beautiful people at Broadway Bares recently announced that this year’s theme will be “Happy Endings” (i.e. fairy tales). If you’re in New York on June 17th and want to watch Broadway’s hottest take it all off for a good cause, you can get tickets and more info at www.broadwaycares.org.
It never crossed my mind as I watched Christian Bale sing and dance across a movie screen in Disney’s Newsies in April 1992 that I would end up watching it 20 years later live on a Broadway stage. After all, Newsies was a pretty giant flop for Disney and, even though its gained cult status, a musical is certainly a risky venture too.
It’s proven to be a worthwhile venture.
Originally designed as a musical they would have in its library to license out, the show was a huge audience and critical success when it debuted at the Paper Mill Playhouse last year. Disney decided to bring the success to Broadway for a limited run, which was to last until June but, due to demand, has already extended to August.
The story is the same as the movie, centered on the newsboy strike of 1899, which also addressed child labor throughout New York City. For the stage, multi-Tony Winner Harvey Fierstein has re-worked the book in an effort to make the story flow better. Honestly, the results here are mixed. I liked how more attention was paid to Jack and his struggle to decide if he was going to stay in the city or move out West. However, something about the structure of the story seems to make everything come across as a bit superficial.
Even with that, I absolutley loved the show for three reasons: The songs, the choreography and star Jeremy Jordan.
All the songs I liked from the movie are in it, and they’ve jettisoned some of the songs I didn’t care for (like “High Times, Hard Times”). There are, of course, new songs too, which are written by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, they guys who wrote the original film score. Among the new songs I liked “Watch What Happens,” which focuses on the reporter writing the story of the birth of the newsies union, and “Something to Believe In,” which is the love duet between Jack and Katherine, the reporter. In the film, there were songs I’d speed over on DVD, but all the songs on the stage are worth listening to.
Christopher Gattelli put together amazing choreography. From the first leaps across the stage in “Carrying the Banner,” its clear that some great dancing is in store. My favorite here was “Seize the Day,” which featured some fun dancing on newspapers. Runner up to that was the big tap number for “King of New York.” In the ensemble of the show are three of my favorite So You Think You Can Dance alums: Evan Kasparzak from season five, Jess LeProtto from season eight and Alex Wong from seven. Evan and Jess have a great tap-off during “King of New York.” And it’s great watching Alex dance live, including doing one of his signature moves of holding his leg against his head just as he did in “Get Outta Your Mind” on SYTYCD.
And then there’s Jeremy Jordan. Buzz grew around him during the Paper Mill run of the show. It looked like he wasn’t going to do the Broadway run because after Paper Mill he went into the premiere of Frank Wildhorn’s Bonnie & Clyde. Luckily, Bonnie & Clyde died a quick death, freeing Jordan to rejoin Newsies in time for the start of previews earlier this month. He is absolutely fantastic in the lead role of Jack Kelly, playing it with far more charisma and power than Christian Bale did.
It’s great to see Newsies reborn and getting a wider audience than ever before. Disney will certainly have many schools clamoring to license the show (which, as noted, was always their intent), but now they’ve got a new Broadway hit on their hands. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show extending its run beyond August. The audience at the show last night certainly liked what it saw. Critics will have their say tomorrow night as the show officially opens.
Here’s a look at the cast from their recent appearance on The View where they performed “Seize the Day” and “Santa Fe.”
Random trivia note: Newsies plays at the Nederlander, which was the home of Rent when it played on Broadway. Both shows feature a song called “Santa Fe,” and in both cases it’s about characters wanting to escape New York to go to the city out west.
Since I finished reading The Hunger Games late last year I’ve been excited to see the movie and see how they were going to pull off such a large scale story that is told through the eyes of a single character.
I like the results of the film that opened this past weekend. The overall way they turned the novel into a film worked well. I think the only thing that would’ve made it better is if they’d had more time to lay the story out, such as a six hour cable miniseries. However, to stuff the story in to around 140 minutes, they did a pretty good job. In fact, I think people who haven’t read the book won’t feel like anything is missing. I can’t fault the filmmakers for their choices, they make complete sense in terms of getting the narrative to screen.
I thought the casting was spot-on. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were very good as Katniss and Peeta. Liam Hemsworth had the perfect brood as Gale. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was good, though I would’ve liked to see more of him and the back and forth between drunk and sober. Lenny Kravitz was delightful as Cinna. Donald Sutherland was at his evil best as President Snow. Like Harrelson, I wish we’d have seen more of Elizabeth Banks’ Effie. Except for Katniss and Peeta, a lot of the supporting characters were glossed over in this film and hopefully well see them fleshed out in the next two films because it’s clear there’s some good stuff going on there.
Director Gary Ross did a great job putting the film together. From the get-go when we see Katniss in District 12, you immediately feel the oppression. The reaping scene, which runs with no-music and jerky camera movements works so ideally to ratchet up the tension and let you feel the heartbreak at what’s going on as two teens are shipped off to likely die. I’m often not a fan of jerky camera work, but here it’s used well and helps the movie pack a punch with a you-are-there sort of feel. I also like how the movie was opened up since I think it would’ve been difficult to keep everything to Katniss’ point of view. The scenes in the game control center, in the Capitol, in District 12… and in a key scene in District 11… were great.
I hope Ross continues with the series and directs Catching Fire, which is due for Thanksgiving 2013.
Meanwhile, just a moment on some of the trailers that ran: The Amazing Spider-Man looks fantastic and Andrew Garfield is hot! … I don’t think there is anything that can scare me off a movie more than seeing “From Best Selling Author Stephenie Meyer.” I’m not talking about Breaking Dawn Part 2 (which we saw a trailer for and I’m still not seeing) but The Hose which is coming in March 2013. If her name is on it, I’m not in theater. … The Avengers looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Can’t wait for that!
We saw Now. Here. This. last summer when it was presented as part of the Vineyard Theatre’s Development Lab series. It was exciting news when it was announced the production was part of the Vineyard’s season.
The show is based in the idea put forth by a monk that if people were in the present, rather than constantly distracted, the more they would truly connect with their lives.
The time is now. We are here. Let’s do this.
Now. Here. This. has grown up a lot in the past nine months. What was mostly a series of skits with a common theme, now has a stronger through line and that makes the stories and songs all the more powerful. In an effort to live Now. Here. This., the four go to the natural history museum to learn things. What the audience gets is an array of stories about trying to let go of worrying about others think about you, connecting with family, being present in the moment, and what can be lost if you’re not in the moment.
, there are moments of profound laughter, drama, sadness and inspiration. The collaborators–Hunter Bell, Michael Barresse, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen and Larry Pressgrove–know how to craft a story that can hit home. Among my favorite pieces are “Dazzle Camouflage,” which looks at the lengths people will go to in an effort to hide their real selves; “That Makes Me Hot,” which gets to the core of embarrassment and “Golden Palace,” which delves into the creative process.
I have two favorite pieces. Heidi and Hunter talked about their relationships with grandmothers they lost. There were no songs, but some powerful storytelling. As with
‘s “Way Back to Then,” it’s Heidi who gets the most powerful song with “This Time” which stopped the show for a moment as the audience showed its appreciation.
I hope these talented folks continue to produce new work together. It’s always a magical theatrical experience.
And here, as a parting moment, is Will posing with the big poster outside the Vineyard, contemplating the meaning of Now. Here. This.