The name alone inspires wonder and, if you’re a theatre nerd like me, a bit of awe. When my sister and I heard “Newsies” was shifting from a 1992 cult film to a prized New York City stage performance, we gobbled up tickets — and made plans to head up for the weekend. We heard about the show after seeing “King Of New York” performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, then finalized our plans in February. And then? Then, I kind of forgot about it. Because life gets crazy. Because I was planning another trip, busy at work and trying to keep all the plates spinning.
Before we knew it, I was tossing some clothes in a suitcase and hopping on a train to Penn Station. Kate and I got to New York at lunchtime Saturday and hit the ground running, getting a sandwich en route to Times Square and scoping out the New York Public Library (more coming soon). For a book nerd like me, the NYPL was the mecca I’d imagined it would be — and posing with the stone lions was a definite highlight. What can I say? I’m a sucker for tourist hotspots. And though I tried not to scream “TOURIST!” for 48 hours, I was a tourist. And it felt good.
After sightseeing, changing for the evening and enjoying a delicious dinner at Haru on 43rd Street (like my NYC street knowledge?), we made it to the Nederlander Theatre and joined the queue to enter “Newsies,” the entire crazy reason we’d poured ourselves up to the city. After we got in line, the queue wrapped easily around the block — and the audience energy was palpable. People everywhere were chatting, talking excitedly and snapping photos with the flashy marquee. Though I didn’t remember much about “Newsies” (beyond my sister’s favorite songs), I was pumped, too. A real Broadway show! Serious actors! Staying up late in Manhattan!
It was everything I would have wanted — and my sister loved it. A lifelong “Newsies” fan, she performed tunes like “King Of New York” and “Seize The Day” in an elementary school talent show — and I can still picture her dancing in her newsboy cap, so proud of her moves and lyrics. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe my 23-year-old sister is . . . well, 23. Being older, I’m perpetually unaware of her growth and change. To me, she’s still my 5-year-old sidekick with the long tresses and easy laugh.
I’m so glad we could share the experience. Jeremy Jordan was wonderful as Jack Kelly, the smokin’ hot and charismatic leader of the newsboy crew. When newspaper heavyweight Joseph Pulitzer raises the cost of papers (or “papes,” if you’re cool with Newsie lingo), the army of homeless and hungry newsboys in New York City’s boroughs rebel against the added financial burden. Kelly becomes their mouthpiece, organizing a newsboy union and striking. Against arguably the most powerful man in media. This was in 1899 — and based on a true story.
The Broadway rendition is probably catchier than the real-life struggle of hundreds of kids more than a century ago, but that’s quite all right. I like my history with a side of adorable dancing men, stuck-in-your-head-forever show tunes and intrepid girl reporters. “Seize The Day” should be my new anthem as I struggle to get up for work — and these aren’t the kinds of songs you’ll soon forget. The audience was completely into it, leaning forward and dancing in their seats. Aside from the audience member in front of me who almost got a swift kick to the head (literally — I fantasized about it) for her obnoxious screaming (really?), I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
And then we got egg creams and cheesecake from a diner near our hotel and I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.
If you’re in the NYC area or looking for a fun day trip, “Newsies” is well worth a look. We were told by another show goer that the story enjoys a cult following — and judging by the audience’s pumped-up dance moves and enthusiastic standing ovation, I don’t doubt that for a second.