Extra! Extra! Disney's Newsies Will Debut at Paper Mill Playhouse
By Adam Hetrick
The stage adaptation of the 1992 Disney film musical "Newsies" will premiere at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in September. The regional premiere will serve as the launch pad for the property's future in dramatic licensing.
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.
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.
Kenny Ortega ("This Is It," "High School Musical") directed the 1992 film, which includes such songs as "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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