Monday, September 19, 2011

Hutch's Vision of the Newsies on Broadway

The Newsies always has been and will always be my favorite movie of all time. It is my rainy day movie, my bad day movie, my celebratory movie, my any and all occasions movie. It is what made me fall in love with Christian Bale before he became Christian Bale (read: talented but crazy). I love the pelvic thrusts, the bad New York accents, the rousing chorale numbers, (and the moment where one of the Brooklyn newsies climbs out of the river and you can totally see his you-know-what.) My friends and I have even made up a Newsies drinking game, though we have yet to actually play it.

Pre-rage Christian was so saxy

I am not alone in my obsession with this 1992 failed Disney musical. There are dozens of us out there who belt along in our living rooms to Santa Fe whilst wearing a cowboy hat, who have tried to jump over our own right leg, who have wondered if the newsie who spins on the ceiling fan puked afterwards. We have been teased with a stage version of our favorite movie for almost two decades now, but it always seemed like a distant dream. Like the flying car or chocolate that doesn't make you fat. Finally, a few years ago, I learned that a project was in the works to bring the joy of the Newsies to a whole new generation of snobby theater geeks. I thought, yeah yeah, I'll believe it when I see it. But it seems like it's finally going to be a reality, according to this article.

While I am glad that it's finally happening, (even though I'd have to go to friggin' New Jersey to see it), I have a few bones to pick with the adaptation. First of all, why are they getting rid of the cowboy element? I don't like cowboys myself, but that was Jack's whole dream! He wore that stupid hat proudly. Cowboy was his nickname, and the driving force behind Santa Fe (arguably the best song in the whole damn thing). It was where he claimed his mom and dad were, instead of dead and in jail respectively. Not cool, guys. Also, I happened to like "High Times, Hard Times" even if it did win a Razzie. It was classic Vaudeville which was a big part of newsie culture. Plus, they're getting rid of Medda! Granted she was kind of useless, but she did add some much needed female presence in a borderline sausage-fest. And what's with getting rid of Denton? I loves me some Bill Pullman.

"To our man Denton!"

I think the biggest reason I'm bitter is because when I was a Freshman in high school, I was planning my own version. It would be true to the heart of the story, but with a few improvements:

Unrequited love

1. Brooklyn Newsie Kingpin Spot Conlon would be a girl. Sure Spot is a badass, especially with his wicked cane and slingshot acumen. But think how much more badass Spot would be if he was a girl! Plus, I had imagined a whole secondary love plotline with girl-Spot and Dave The Walkin' Mouth (because he kind of comes off as a little bit hopelessly in love with Jack.) I also wanted a musical number with just the Brooklyn Newsies, but it seems like the new musical felt the same way.

I do not take credit for this sweet Spot collage. But isn't he just a pimp?

2. Speaking of female love interests, David's sister/Jack's lady friend Sarah would have a much bigger part. There would be an awesome duet with Jack and Sarah while they're on the rooftop. Plus, when the Delancey bruddahs try something with Sarah, she would kick their asses instead of stupidly bruising her hand on the wall and needing Jack to come save her. Also, their kiss at the end would be stellar instead of the worst screen kiss ever (seriously, when Jack snorts a bunch of snot up his nose right before slobbering all over Sarah, I just want to puke).

Oh Ele Keats. You're just useless.

3. I always had this theory that Racetrack was secretly either Medda's son or her boy toy (not both). Mostly because in the riot scene when Racetrack gets punched, Medda freaks out and screams "RACETRACK!!!!" So either she's a fake Swedish Mrs. Robinson and Racetrack is a pimp with a taste for older ladies, or Medda gave Racetrack up for adoption to pursue her Vaudeville career and this was her way of keeping tabs on him. Whichever one I decided to go with, that subplot would be fleshed out.

Medda, the fake Swedish Mrs. Robinson

4. I'd also like to see Pulitzer sing some great Disney villain song like "Poor Unfortunate Souls" or "Be Prepared." I think he could pull it off. But I understand that in the movie Robert Duvall wasn't up for belting showtunes or tripping the light fantastic.

I may look intense, but inside I'm singing Gypsy

5. I wouldn't be surprised if Kid Blink and Mush had their own thing going on behind the scenes, but it might be pushing the limits of Disney to have underage boys hooking up on stage.

You can feel the sexual tension between these two.

6. Refuge Warden Snyder seems like an even more evil character than he is portrayed in the movie. I see him as a physically abusive pedophile rather than just a mean embezzler. (The pedophile aspect would just be faintly hinted at since if we can't have a gay love story, we definitely can't have child molestation.) Making the Refuge even more of a scary, terrible place would create a greater sense of relief when Snyder is thrown in jail at the end and all the kids are freed. Or maybe my mind is just dark and twisted after watching too much Law and Order: SVU.

One creepy-ass mother. I honestly wouldn't be surprised.
He did go on to steal John Locke's kidney after all.

I'm sure I have more notes on my Newsies dream musical, but for now that's all I can remember. So, anyone want to go to Jersey with me to see how the real thing turns out???

UPDATE: Watching the Newsies now. I'd definitely axe the ridiculous cowboy solo dance that Jack does in the middle of Santa Fe, almost ruining it. I'd also have more of a rebellion in the Refuge before Snyder gets thrown in the pokey.


  1. I'm pretty sure you are my long-lost soulmate. I'm obsessed with Newsies and watch it annually (making a big deal of it and freaking out my husband). Also, I adored Christian Bale before anyone knew who he was. In high school, I was in musical theatre and thought: if I was in Newsies, I'd be Spot. I'd audition and get that part, even though it's supposed to be a boy. Sarah absolutely needs a bigger part, and Mush and Medda should have a fling.
    Where have you been all my life?

  2. I'm so glad I'm not the only one harboring those theories! Whenever I spout them to my friends, they look at me like I'm crazy! I think if I were a newsie, I'd be either Racetrack or Kid Blink. I could totally rock that eye patch!

  3. If you're crazy, we both are!
    I think Kid Blink is pretty cute - 'course, it's kinda hard to tell with an eye patch...
    I referenced this post of yours on MY blog today, and also saw another post that mentioned Newsies...
    Also, keep blogging already! ;)

  4. I haven't seen this movie, but mark my words I will see it soon, even if I have to drive to Blockbuster in a flying car made of fatless chocolate.

  5. Awesome, Elliot! Let me know how you like it! It's definitely not for everyone, but if you just go with it, it will steal your heart. And possibly your soul.

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