In 1992, Walt Disney Pictures released “Newsies,” the first original, live-action movie musical that Hollywood had made in years. When it received less than stellar reviews, and was not an immediate box office smash, it was pulled from theatres after only a brief run.
But, over the years, “Newsies” found its audience. Young people were taken by its “We can make a difference” message, college students found ideal audition material in Alan Menken’s stirring songs, and school music teachers discovered it to be invaluable in getting boys interested in choir and theatre.
In 1994, “Beauty and the Beast” opened on Broadway, proving that Disney could bring one of its movies to life on the stage. And it wasn’t long thereafter that “Newsies” fans started thinking…“ ‘Newsies’ on Broadway–it’s a perfect fit.” In fact, for many years now, Music Theatre International (the agency that rents the performance rights for many of the classic shows to schools, colleges, community theatres, etc.) has gotten more requests for “Newsies” than any other show, but there was nothing to offer.
Finally, the good folks at Disney have heard the call. Last month, the first Disney Theatrical sanctioned production of “Newsies: The Musical” premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse — a Broadway-style theatre with an outstanding reputation, in Millburn, New Jersey. Tony winner Harvey Fierstein reworked the story, and Alan Menken & original lyricist Jack Feldman added some new songs.
We have several ardent fans of the show here at Stanton’s Sheet Music. Five of our staff members “seized the day” and made their pilgrimage to Jersey to see the new production. There are a number of changes to the original story that have been made to help the show translate better to the stage; no spoilers here, but all your favorite songs and dance features are still in there, and the quality of the production is top-notch! Thank you again to the Paper Mill Playhouse for helping to finally bring this musical to the stage—all agreed that it was certainly worth the 18-hour round trip from Columbus, OH to enjoy this unforgettable experience!