On the Red Carpet: Which Rumblers Would Win a Broadway Madness Bracket... Greasers, Von Trapps, or Jellicle Cats? | Playbill

Opening Night On the Red Carpet: Which Rumblers Would Win a Broadway Madness Bracket... Greasers, Von Trapps, or Jellicle Cats?

Go inside opening night of The Outsiders with curtain call photos, interviews, and red carpet guests including Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Author S.E. Hinton.

Joshua Boone and company of The Outsiders Michaelah Reynolds

The stars were out in full force and shimmering gold to celebrate the Broadway opening of the new musical The Outsiders April 11 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Based on the 1967 S.E Hinton novel, the story follows Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade, and their chosen family of "outsiders," who are in a fight for survival and a quest for purpose in a world that may never accept them. That brotherhood was on full display on stage and on the red carpet.  Read the reviews for The Outsiders here. 

While externally the cast may have been feeling the pressure to live up to the "great expectations" set by the immensely successful novel and the1983  Francis Ford Coppola film adaptation, Hinton was quick to shut down any concerns the cast may have had about living up to fans anticipation.

"There's always that pressure when you do something with such beloved source material," shared Jason Schmidt, who plays Ponyboy's lover boy brother Sodapop. "We had a talk with S.E. Hinton where she said, 'Make it yours, and do your own thing with it'. With each character, we'd be like, 'Well, what do you want to see?' and and she was like, 'I want to see what you have to bring to it'. She took a lot of that pressure off, which was beautiful."

Brent Comer, Daryl Tofa, Sky Lakota-Lynch, Brody Grant, Emma Pittman, Dan Berry, Kevin William Paul, Jason Schmidt, and Joshua Boone Michaelah Reynolds

Daryl Tofa, who plays the fun-loving Two-Bit, was also calmed by Hinton's steady support. "The first conversation that we had with her, one of her big things that she wanted was for us to take everything that we'd learned from the book and the movie, and throw it out the window. To do exactly what we wanted to do with it, and adapt it to ourselves. It was beautiful," he says. While Tofa is one of the few cast members to have tread the Broadway boards before (in Mean Girls and Back to the Future), The Outsiders "feels like my Broadway debut. It's something very special."

With the stress to adhere to previous adaptations out of the way, other pressures descended for other members of the company. Emma Pittman, who plays Cherry Valance (the musical's only female principal) carried a very personal weight on her shoulders. "It was really important to me to honor the 10th-grade girl that I was when I first met Cherry in the book. I knew then that I wanted to have the chance to play her in some way, shape, or form. And so to be able to honor that girl, that little Mississippi girl who wanted to do exactly what I'm doing right now," she says. "It is an honor and a privilege to let that girl be on the stage."

Kevin William Paul, who plays Cherry's dangerous boyfriend Bob, has chosen to shoulder the pressure of cultural expectations as a part of his interpretation. "I want to make people question their thoughts on masculinity in our culture," says Paul. "The nature of showing up for someone, putting your heart on the line for someone, reaching out and allowing yourself to be desperate, to be scared, to be in love, and to want someone else. I see all of that and more in this story, and for Bob. It's in the dirt. It's in the rain. It's everywhere."

In the midst of all the introspection, Playbill had fun on the red carpet with the company of The Outsiders to create a Broadway Madness bracket, with some of theatre's most powerful gangs facing off for the ultimate rumble. Watch the video below.

All eyes at the opening night festivities were on Brody Grant, leading the cast in his Broadway debut as Ponyboy. He handled being in the eye of the storm remarkably well. "I feel crazy," Grant laughed. "I feel blessed and honored, and I'm just trying to breathe it all in, and soak it all in. I'm leaning on the people in this team. This cast, this creative team, this crew, they're all very generous, dedicated artists."

That camaraderie, both on and offstage, has kept everyone sane through the rollercoaster of emotions attached to bringing the piece of Broadway. "It's like going through the trenches," Grant shared. "It is a very difficult time. It tests your voice, it tests your body, it tests your mental capacity. But it's also been beautiful. It's amazing to see. Even when we feel like we have something amazing, we still keep chipping away at it and carving it out and making it more beautiful. We have a really amazing creative team that fosters our chasing excellence and chasing truth."

READ: The Outsiders' Brody Grant and Sky Lakota-Lynch Are This Generation's Ponyboy and Johnny

Head of that creative team is Danya Taymor, directing her first musical on Broadway. While opening night is first and foremost a celebration, it is also Taymor's swan song: her work complete, the opening festivities also indicate the point where she has to hand over control of the piece. "You know, for a director, this is the moment where I give it over to the actors, to the stage managers, to the crew," Taymor explained, audibly emotional. "They are the ones who are going to run the show and really live in it. So opening feels bittersweet, which is the best kind of feeling."

See the company take opening night bows in the gallery below. 

Photos: The Outsiders Take Their Opening Night Bow

With her creative team, Taymor has created an incredibly complex sequence of action, where every discipline has to be in direct sync with the other: sound triggers light, light triggers, motion, motion triggers music, and so on. "Directing is really about harnessing all these incredible collaborators towards one shared vision. And I feel like this creative team really put the hours in together," Taymor shared. "The writers and the composers were sitting with the set designer and with the lighting designer, or with our choreography team. We put the hours in to get there."

The choreography for The Outsiders is particularly complex, serving both as beauty and brutality as the Greaser and Soc gangs enter wartime. Choreographed by the Kuperman Brothers in their Broadway debut (set to a score by Jamestown Revival), it wasn't easy to devise a new movement language for such an iconic story.

"It was really important to lean in to all of the features of theatre that are unique and distinct from all other forms," explained Rick Kuperman. "Rendering the Drive-In or the Rumble, or the escape scene in 'Run Run Brother' in the most theatrical way that we could think of was key."

"Even something as simple as when Darrel slaps Ponyboy took a lot of thought," Jeff Kuperman added. "The amount of real estate that takes up in Ponyboy's head is massive, so we needed to push it even further than we would have if it was a scene on film, or how we would imagine it in the book. It had to make a massive impact, and that was one of the guiding principles that led us on the show."

As the oldest Curtis brother, Brent Comer had quite a difficult task ahead of him as Darrel. As an elder Greaser, the head of the Curtis family, and a newcomer to the production following its out-of-town run, he has been handling the speed of his Broadway debut with grace. "I am a little overwhelmed," Comer admitted, chuckling. "It's truly an actor's dream to be able to bring such an iconic story to Broadway. And I couldn't be more grateful, even if I'm overwhelmed in the best way. We're very different creatures, Darrel and myself, but we both struggle with allowing ourselves to be seen. And I think that's something that is common for young people, and I think it's a universal struggle. It's a beautiful thing to be able to actively explore and discover on stage."

The Curtis brothers may be a three person unit, but their family isn't complete without Johnny Cade, Ponyboy's best friend. While Johnny is one of the youngest Greasers, backstage the Broadway veteran Sky Lakota-Lynch jokingly considers himself "the daddy of the theatre. I'm always the one giving the advice and calming them down. I love that I get to be one of the more seasoned Greasers off stage." 

Lakota-Lynch is the only cast member to have been with the piece since its very first workshop, a six year journey from first reading to first Broadway preview. When he thinks back on the many iterations of the piece, and its winding journey to Broadway, a meaning becomes clear.

"I think it means to continue dreaming," Lakota-Lynch states. "I think it means that you don't have to ever give up, no matter what, even when you think that it's never gonna come around. It will, you just have to be patient with yourself and with the universe."

Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Justine Levine, Angelina Jolie, Danya Taymor, Adam Rapp, Jeff Kuperman, and Rick Kuperman Michaelah Reynolds

Adam Rapp, one of the shows book writers, agrees. "I am relieved, exhausted, and tired, but I am also really thrilled. This was almost a decade long project that kept finding ways to survive, beyond COVID, and a loss in our leadership at the helm. We had to reconstitute many times, we had to recast, and we survived it. And that's incredibly satisfying, knowing what we've figured out these last six months, especially with how to make it here."

Above all, the sentiment of surviving and finding balance, time and time again, reverberated through the entire company. That the show overcame such a long list of challenges to make it to Broadway feels like fate to many, including Grant.

"I mean this from the bottom of my heart, gut, and soul. I really believe in this show. Just like I believe in the book, just like I believe in the movie. I believe in these characters. I believe in this story. And I believe there's a reason it's being put out today. It had to happen now."

Take a look through the gallery below for more photos from the opening night red carpet arrivals, including celebrity producer Angelina Jolie and author S.E. Hinton.

Photos: Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, S.E. Hinton, More Celebrate Opening Night of The Outsiders

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