Newsies Musical Reading Includes Jay Armstrong Johnson, Shuler Hensley, Meghann Fahy
By Adam Hetrick
Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken, Tony Award-winning playwright Harvey Fierstein and Jack Feldman are ready to "Seize the Day" with a reading of their stage adaptation of the 1992 film musical "Newsies."
Playbill.com has learned that Disney is producing another 29-hour private reading of the property that will take place Dec. 10 in Manhattan. A previous reading took place in May. The 1899-set tale centers on a strike by newsboys, who are angry that newspaper owners are raising distribution prices.
The reading cast includes 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.
Tony Award nominee Liz Larsen is cast as Medda, with Tom Alan Robbins as Mr. Jacobi/Roosevelt, Marcus Neville as Snyder, Mark Price as Bunsen, Bill Nolte as Seitz, Robert Creighton as Wiesel, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie, Corey Mach as M. Delancey, Ben Thompson as O. Delancy, Bobby List as Finch, Robert Hager as Race, John Arthur Greene as Spot, Danny Calvert as Bill/George/Henry, Jordan Nichols as Albert/Darcy/Elmer, Dante Russo as Mush and ensemble members Stuart Marland, Etai BenShlomo, Julie Foldesi and Jenelle Lynn Randall.
Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Leap of Faith, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid) spoke with Playbill.com in September about the latest development of "Newsies," which reunites him with the film's original lyricist, Feldman. Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy) has been brought on board to pen a new book for the stage adaptation.
Kenny Ortega ("This Is It," "High School Musical") directed the 1992 film, but is not involved in the current stage project.
Menken previously told Playbill.com, "Yeah, it is in development. What it's going to be is — honestly, right now — undetermined. I think Disney is still trying to decide whether it's a first-class production or whether it's stock and amateur. But there will be available a stage musical of 'Newsies.' That's all I can say. I've been writing it with Harvey Fierstein and Jack Feldman. [How it emerges is] just gonna be [a] business decision of how Disney wants to proceed with it. But yes, we are developing it."
Menken said he and Feldman have expanded the "Newsies" score for the stage. It features "a lot of new songs." He added, "We're having a very successful collaboration. We're all having a great time. We already had a 29-hour reading…in May. I don't think Disney knows yet what it's going to be."
The film score included the Menken-Feldman songs "Seize the Day," "Once and for All," "The World Will Know," "High Times, Hard Times," "Carrying the Banner," "King of New York," "Carrying the Banner," "Santa Fe," "My Lovey-Dovey Baby" and more.
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