The song, Variety reports, was the result of a songwriting exercise for an episode of the American Theatre Wing's "Working in the Theater" series called "The Anatomy of a Song." Written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, the new tune is titled "Letter from the Refuge" and is now performed by actor Zachary Sayle.
The song takes place when the disabled Crutchie is placed in a juvenile detention center and pens a letter to his friend Jack.
“Crutchie as a character would never be self-pitying, and he’s not used to writing letters, so that defined the pace and the tone of the song,” Menken told Variety. “It’s tentative, emotional but guarded, with a sense of false bravado and a tenderness underneath. For other songs in the show, for instance, I wanted to give ‘Carrying the Banner’ kind of a honkytonk feel, and ‘Seize the Day’ has a military sound. But this one is really just the music of the heart, so we wanted to keep it quiet and tender.”
During its first year of touring in the 2014-15 season, Newsies is playing 25 cities, over 43 weeks.
The cast is led by Dan DeLuca as Jack Kelly, Steve Blanchard as Joseph Pulitzer, Stephanie Styles as Katherine, Angela Grovey as Medda Larkin, Jacob Kemp as Davey, Sayle as Crutchie, and Vincent Crocilla and Anthony Rosenthal alternating the role of Les. Rounding out the company are Mark Aldrich, Josh Assor, Evan Autio, Bill Bateman, Joshua Michael Burrage, Kevin Carolan, DeMarius Copes, Benjamin Cook, Julian DeGuzman, Nico De Jesus, Sky Flaherty, Steve Greenstein, Jon Hacker, Jeff Heimbrock, Stephen Hernandez, James Judy, Meredith Inglesby, Eric John Mahlum, Ginna Claire Mason, Michael Ryan, Jordan Samuels, Jack Sippel, Melissa Steadman Hart, Andrew Wilson and Chaz Wolcott.
Newsies features a Tony Award-winning score with music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. It is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.
The musical is directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, who won a 2012 Tony Award for his work. The entire creative team is reuniting to bring the musical to audiences across North America.
Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies, according to press notes, is the "rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right."
The musical was inspired by the real-life "Newsboy Strike of 1899," when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers.