The stage production features original and fresh songs by Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Leap of Faith, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid) and Jack Feldman, who collaborated on the live-action film. As previously reported, Tony Award-winning playwright Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy) has been brought on board to pen a new book for the stage adaptation.
Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun (The Will Rogers Follies, Grey Gardens) will helm the musical about a newsboy strike, which will bow Sept. 15 and officially open Sept. 25. Performances will continue through Oct. 16. Newsies will be the first production of Paper Mill's 2011-2012 season. Casting has not been announced.
"It's been thrilling to return to my beloved Newsies and to revisit, revamp and expand upon the score Jack Feldman and I wrote; especially with the exciting addition of a new book by the brilliant Harvey Fierstein," Menken said in a statement. "This collaboration has been a total joy. And I can't wait to see our new baby come to life."
Disney representatives stated that the production was not eyeing a Broadway berth, but is being explored as a property for licensing by professional and amateur groups. Theatrical organizations regularly inquire about rights to Newsies through Music Theatre International, which licenses Disney's stage titles.
Disney is taking a similar approach with a two-act version of its Academy Award-winning animated film Aladdin (also with songs by Menken), which will premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre this summer under the direction of Tony nominee Casey Nicholaw. The title is being groomed for a future in dramatic licensing from MTI.
Here's how the creators bill the stage work: "Newsies is inspired by the real life 'Newsboy Strike of 1899,' when newsboy Kid Blink led the ragged orphans and runaways known as newsies on a two-week long action against Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers. Set in New York City at the turn of the century, the musical is the tale of newsie Jack Kelly, who dreams of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when Pulitzer and Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsies' expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies his army of newsies to strike."
A December workshop of Newsies featured Jay Armstrong Johnson (Hair) as Jack "Cowboy" Kelly, Jason Michael Snow (South Pacific) as Davey, Matthew Gumley (Elf) as Les, Meghann Fahy (Next to Normal) as Katherine and Tony Award-winning actor Shuler Hensley (Oklahoma!, Young Frankenstein) as Joseph Pulitzer.
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