A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Newsies vs Newsies: What Changed from Film to Broadway?

I have been thinking about the stage show of Newsies constantly ever since I saw it on Friday night (the 99th performance of the show!). Besides the gorgeous choreography, blocking, and singing the main thing that has me obsessed is how they adapted and changed Newsies for the stage. 
With the musical, they updated it and changed some weak links from the movie. It’s SO much better on stage, as much as I adore the original movie! (I guess read no further if you don’t want Broadway spoilers…)
  • They took out Denton’s character and combined that news reporter ally with Jack Kelly’s love interest (Don’t worry she’s not some cougar old lady reporter after 17 year old newsboys. She’s a 16 year old named Katherine who is trying to make it as a real reporter based on Nellie Bly, a real 16 year old female reporter from that time period! Very cool) so there would be a strong female role, deleting the worthless Molly Sue (or Mary Sue whichever you prefer) of a sister Dave has in the film (ugh I always hated her). Thank GOD. Katherine is present throughout the entire show and is actively involved in (and in many ways is at the core of) the strike instead of being a side character. And the lyrics of “King of New York” don’t shy away from referring to her as a king, showing that gender doesn’t matter one way or another in this show or in who can make a difference. Ladies can be just as powerful as the guys, something the movie kind of failed at. 
  • The lyrics to the songs were shifted to be more relevant to be used in today’s “battles” (one of the tag lines for the show is “The perfect musical for our time!”) and they also replaced what could have been considered less sensitive phrasing to more political correctness. The movie WAS made nearly 20 years ago so I guess that makes sense. 
  • They changed Medda and I was SO thankful. Her song is different (much improved) because, let’s face it, her movie songs are awful. Also, she didn’t have an accent on stage which somehow made her relationship with the kids seem less creepy. I know that sounds weird (and don’t take this to mean I think accents are bad, I LOVE them…), but movie!Medda and her accent always came off to me like…. scary, cougar lady-Chesterthan the mothering, helpful ally I think they wanted her to be. (Also, I think 20 years ago the creep factor didn’t occur to us as much as it does now.) The stage Medda was written to be much more of a mentor and amamma, plus we weren’t left to speculate as to why she and Jack Kelly were friends, like we were in the movie (where we’d have to creepily wonder how they met and it could only lead to something … awk)…
  • …because they added depth to Jack Kelly’s character by making him an artist. AN ARTIST. (saklhfclnjrgwlber) Jack paints back-drops for Metta’s stage shows. Instead of being just a rough and tumble newsboy, Jack also has a soft sensitive side where he can paint gorgeous landscapes just from his imagination. He also refuses to take money for the paintings he does for Medda, establishing that Jack also has integrity and loyalty (the audience can assume he refuses to take Metta’s money because she has done so much to save him in the past). It’s a REALLY smart move and, even though it’s simple, it flushes out Jack’s character and adds a lot more to him than it ever occurred to me there could be. (Also, how dreamy! Jack Kelly, with his charisma and bad-boy persona, is also secretly a tortured artist? WTF OMG OKAY DISNEY STOP.)
  • They really play up the relationship between Jack and Crutchie, which makes everything that happens in the show much more emotional. It’s not ALL the newsies living together, it’s Jack and Crutchie….. and then they hang with the rest of the newsboys at work. So when Crutchie is taken, it packs a much harder punch. 
  • Overall, the entire story is more emotional and powerful. Since Newsies on Broadway has become its own project, much more care was put into every single avenue of production, something that I don’t think really went into making the movie. It’s not dealt with as though it was just for kids, though it is a kid friendly show, and because of that it comes off as a much more powerful story. The silliness you may feel from the movie is absent in the stage show. Not that it isn’t funny, because it IS. 
The only bad thing about it being a stage show is I will never get to see it again, and that breaks my heart, because it was absolutely perfect. I loved it! 
Kara Lindsay (Katherine) and me!
Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly) and me!!!

If Disney wants to make my life, they should release this musical on DVD some day in the future for my kiddos to see!


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