I am liking this trend of Broadway shows being filmed for posterity, and Disney Theatricals has embarked on it as well by presenting a film version of ‘Newsies,’ the Broadway musical. I saw this show at the Nederlander in 2012 with its original cast and liked the production a lot. And surely, I thought the original cast, particularly Jeremy Jordan (as Jack Kelly) was fantastic. The show has been touring but for this ‘event programming’ they reunited the four principals: Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser, Andrew Keenan-Bolger. That made this filmed production even more special.
This show was based on a 1992 Disney movie starring Christian Bale, and had music by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman. For this production, they added seven new songs and the book was written by Harvey Fierstein. The production, in 2012 was nominated for a slew of Tony’s, and the choreography by Christopher Gattelli was mostly lauded. That choreography is preserved here, with a cast of talented and robust dancers. Seeing them is really a treat, and you will definitely be wowed by the leaps and dexterity of these dancers. But just like anything Disney, you ask yourself, why did that just happen? But we shouldn’t second guess, as these scenes are absolute crowd pleasers, and you will find yourself jumping for joy. Jordan is fantastic here, and the big screen just magnifies his star quality. Lindsay is a beautiful romantic lead with a sweet voice. The well-cast ensemble is its biggest asset, and I loved that in their bows, their names were highlighted one by one. The film direction is a bit too busy, as I wish the action was photographed more from afar, so we can see the depth and breadth of the show. The frequent closeups added more intimacy tot he experience, though. This is still very Disney, for better or worse, and I appreciate it for what it is.