To tell you I was shocked that Newsies announced its August closing date on Broadway this weekend is an understatement. I read about show grosses all the time, and I never once thought it was in trouble. (Even my favorite show message board was surprised.) But this is the truth, after 2.5 years on Broadway, the film-turned-stage show will say goodbye to the Nederlander Theatre on August 28 and move forward with a life on tour.
It’s all a little bittersweet for me. Not because I thought Newsies was the best show in the world. Sure, it’s a total blast and the talents are amazing. (Confession: I love it the show more than the film.) But what I will remember most about my experience seeing it on actual Broadway were the enthusiastic audiences who treated the cast like they were rock stars. The reception was unlike any other show I’ve seen, that is for sure.
On a more personal note, though, all the excitement of Newsies’ pre-tryout and move to Broadway occurred during the early days on This Happy Place Blog. My THP co-founder and I went down to the Paper Mill Playhouse and watched the dress rehearsal. (We also met Jeff for the first time!) We followed anxiously as rumors started to pick up about its eventual move to Broadway, even if the original Jack Kelly was starring in another Broadway show (almost at the same time). The opening, the Tonys… all of the Newsies excitement inspired me to write more about Disney theatre on this platform, to find out more. And for that reasons, I’ll always be thankful to the show.
While I’ve been thinking about the musical the past few days and watching all the sad tweets roll in as its run comes to a close, I’ve realized Newsies opened me up to a lot more than I realized. So today, a glimpse at some of those things.
I hate hate hate to fangirl but the first time I heard Jeremy sing I was like EEK WHO IS THAT. And I’ve been a fan ever since. I had no interest in seeing Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway but I bought tickets because he was in it. It’s become one of my favorite theatre experiences and has a great cast album I can listen to forever. And then there’s Michael Mott. Last year, I bought tickets to a very intimate performance of a few friends and theater people singing Michael’s songs and, ah, I became a Michael fan for life. I am so happy to report that his debut album dropped last week and it is amazing. (Jeremy sings on it, but my absolute fav is actually sang from another Newsie: Ben Fankhauser. It’s called “Gone“.)
Back to Jeremy one quick second. If I can survive through some painful episodes of Smash just to see him act like a jerk and wear a leather jacket, I will pretty much follow him anywhere… (like Neverland!)
I’ve been pretty into Broadway for over 10 years now (I was a late bloomer) but I never ever got to follow a show from pre-Bway tryout to the actual Bway stage. What theatre would be open? Would everyone move with the show? (There was a lot of intrigue with Newsies because Jeremy was currently starring in Bonnie + Clyde… would B&C stay open? Who would they recast?) Most exciting was seeing the changes from the early version of the show to the one that landed at the Nederlander. It was definitely a different kind of investment; it felt personal.
A dream come true:
I have a horrible picture of all of us that I could share, but I won’t. At the dress rehearsal, my THP co-founder, Jeff, and I befriended one of the child actors in the show and he was sweet enough to introduce us to Alan Menken at intermission. Talk about nervewracking. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone of that caliber in my life. Of course, he was lovely + I was so excited to see him win a Tony a few months later.
Awesome theatre fans:
Patty + Emily are theatre mega-fans so make awesome videos, tweets up a storm, and always have smart, honest, great things to say about shows that are playing. (They actually just convinced me I have to see “Holler If You Hear Me” — a show of Tupac’s music — after their review from last week.) Newsies has an incredible social media marketing team + and they retweeted many of Patty and Emily’s videos even before the show opened on Broadway. Their song about a missing link in the show, their attempts to get the people of NYC to see the show… without Newsies, my theatre review reading (watching?) would not be as fun.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… if you know me at all, you know I haven’t seen the necessarily checklist of films I probably should have watched as a kid. Newsies is one of those. Luckily, my THP co-founder loved it + told me I had to watch it before we attended the dress rehearsal. Um, it was so much fun and I was sad I never saw it before that moment. THAT MUSIC. SO CATCHY. But, hey, I crossed off one of those must-dos and here I am, that much smarter. Although my husband made a good point the other night. Newsies is known as this cult classic, and it’s those followers who flocked to the show and made it successful. Not necessarily, folks. My husband and I both agree we liked the stage show more than the film. Maybe because it had the opportunity to close up loose ends, and rewrite history? Either way, I probably never would have watched it without it.
As you can see, Newsies is going to be missed but I’m so thankful for all the opportunities and other joy its brought into my life. I hope if you are in the New York City area this summer, you will take some time to say adios and enjoy it for the last time on Bway. Fear not, the show will be touring + maybe just maybe stopping at a destination near you.