I'm gonna be honest, Newsies was my first obsession. Oh, I loved Star Trek, and things, but I was twelve when I saw it, and... twelve year old hormones mixed with lots of boys dancing and singing. Whew. Can you talk first crush?
NO I WAS ELEVEN, because we saw it in March, and I didn't turn twelve until July.
Jack Kelly was my main man for probably... jeez. I don't think I got over him until I started Supernatural. That means the Newsies obsession lasted a good... five or six years.
I will say by the end of the five or six years, I didn't blush and giggle every time someone mentioned Jack, but every time I watched the movie it would be like, 'so not over it.'
He was an exceptionally attractive little man, what can I say?! (But seriously, I was a huge fangirl before I even knew what a fangirl was. I can still sing like every single part, I still know when to throw a punch when I'm singing, and oh yeah, I can still do the Santa Fe dance.)
Newsies also came at the point in my life, where I loved all things fist-fighty and beaty-uppy. Karate Kid? Yes. Forbidden Kingdom? Yaassss. Fight scenes were awesome, and Newsies has a lot of those.
Soooo, back in 2012, when I found out they were putting on a Broadway production of said Newsies, I was so excited. The promo looked amazing, and I was like "awwww yeah, obsession refueled."
....... or maybe not.
I listened to the Broadway version of it, and I hated it. My excited fangirl heart was crushed, because five reasons.
A.) Wow. Jeremy Jordan was so not.... Christian Bale.
B.) Wow, who is that really annoying reporter girl?
C.) Wow, they took out a lot of the best scenes.
D.) Wow, they added so much swearing.
E.) Wow, I did not connect to the characters at all.
Those were the five main points of sadness for me. I was horrified, I was revolted, I hated this musical so much, how dare they attempt to redo Newsies, what were they THINKING?
So, being the fifteen-year-old that I was, I refused to acknowledge its existence. I couldn't listen to it, I couldn't think about it. It was a disgrace to the Newsies legacy!
Flash forward to now.
I'm a big mature girl, I still love mah Jack Kelly, but in a less hormonal way, and I'm like, "You know... maybe I should give the Broadway musical another go, pretty sure the only reason I hated it was because I didn't like Jeremy Jordan as my baby.
So I listened to it.
I still like the movie better.
But I've come to the conclusion that the musical is not quite as bad as I remembered.
It was still bad, but I found a place where you can watch the full Broadway performance, and it's a lot less bad when the singing is connected to acting.
Let me explain.
1.) I have nothing against Jeremy Jordan, I think he's a good actor, he's good looking, he has a nice voice. But I do not like his portrayal of Jack Kelly, and here's why.
In the movie, Jack was kind of understated, and I get that people read characters differently, but Jeremy Jordan completely changed him from the original Jack. They don't even feel like the same character. And since Jack Kelly is one of my all time favorite characters, I get a bit cranky when people change him.
I did not like how whenever there was a free moment, Jack was caterwauling about Santa Fe. (I'm aware that this is not Jeremy Jordan's fault, but it bugged me nonetheless.) In the movie there was one reprise of Santa Fe, in the musical, it's basically, "Jack's alone, better hammer that Santa Fe angle in again..."
I know technically Jeremy Jordan's voice is better than Christian Bale's, but I personally like Christian's version of Santa Fe way better than Jeremy's. Someone needs to let him know that you can show emotion without cracking on every. Single. Note. I'm all for a good, well-placed crack for added effect, but one or two is fine, not twenty or thirty. Where Christian's version of Santa Fe is kind of raw and vulnerable, Jeremy's is mostly just loud and cracky.*
*I will say it's a lot less noticeable when you watch him sing, than when you just listen, but still. He cracks a lot.
On the other hand, I really, really liked that in the musical, unlike the movie, they made Jack an artist. He draws and paints and that makes the artist in me squeal because ART.
2.) Okay, what's the deal with changing the reporter into a girl? Maybe they felt like there was too much testosterone and they needed to balance it out with a lady. (Heaven forbid girls don't get a shot on the show, feminists have to have a role somewhere, right?) But what was wrong with having Davey's sister be the love interest? I would have been fine with it if they had decided to make Sarah a bigger character. But they got rid of Denton, who was a really good father figure to the Newsies, and inserted Katherine Plummer who is extremely obnoxious.
I have nothing against girls! I am a girl! I think girls are amazing! Ra, ra, girls are awesome!
Unfortunately, I think the idea of a female reporter in 1899 falling in love with a seventeen year old newsie to be unlikely. I'm sure there were lady reporters and things, seeing as it was the turn of the century and the Suffragette movement was going strong at the time, but the odds of her being young enough to fall in love with a teenager? NOT GOOD.
In the movie, Denton is already an established reporter, who takes the newsboys under his wing, and helps them out. He pays for their food, he respects them for what they're doing, he's basically really cool.
In the musical, Katherine is a barely making it reporter who views the newsboys as her chance to get in good with the editor of her paper, so she'll get a raise and a promotion. She is not cool.
Also *spoiler alert, skip the next paragraph if you don't want the spoil* Apparently Katherine was Pulitzer's daughter. But according to his biography, Katherine died at age two from pneumonia. Newsies is based on a true story, let's try to keep history at least somewhat correct, yeah?
Because of the addition of Katherine, the musical turns more to women deserve to be treated like men, rather than the newsies want to be treated like humans.
The whole "Equal Rights" thing is totally in your face in the musical, much more so than the movie. I'm all for equal rights, but I'll be much less for it if you shove it in my face.
3.) They took out a lot of stuff from the movie so they could make room for Jack and Katherine's relationship. Which wouldn't have bothered me all that much if A.) I liked Katherine or B.) They didn't take out so many important things.
a.) They took out a lot of the friendship development of Jack and Davey, and replaced it with a Jack and Crutchie bromance,* which means David shows up to be a newsie, and it jumps right from there to the whole Jack and Dave are a team, even though there's no bonding.
*Bromance-- Noun. The non-creepy, best-friend relationship between guys. For example Shawn and Gus from Psych have a bromance. Sam and Dean have a bromance. Arthur and Merlin have a bromance.
Don't get me wrong, I love Crutchie in the movie, he's a cripple, and he's sweet. But he's also tough, and in the musical he kind of sounds like he's ready to cry at any given moment.
b.) They took out the Refuge bit where Jack and Dave go to rescue Crutchie and replaced it with Jack hiding away and painting backdrops for Medda.
c.) Spot Conlon doesn't even show up until near the end of the show. WHAT?!! Spot was awesome, why leave him out?
d.) They took out Jack getting arrested. They took out everybody getting arrested! The only kid who gets arrested is Crutchie. Oh wait, Jack gets locked in Pulitzer's cellar... which makes all the sense in the world.
e.) Jack never becomes a scab. The only thing he does is try to break up the newsie rally. (Irritating.) This took away the climax, where the newsies think he's turned against them. It also means that the part where Jack rescues Davey from the Delanceys got taken out. That fight scene was the best! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.
f.) Because they took out Denton, the whole Bring-Teddy-Roosevelt-in aspect was made unrealistic. In the movie, Denton had been a Rough Rider with Teddy, so they were friends. Therefore when Denton brings Teddy's attention to the way the newsies were treated, you can see how that would work.
In the musical, they made it seem like Theodore Roosevelt was playing around with Medda, and Medda's the one who brings Katherine to see him. Now, they never say it outright, but it's heavily implied. Teddy was a good family man, he wouldn't have been messing around with someone who wasn't his wife.
4.) I know being irritated by lyric changes is being petty, so I'll apologize for that. I don't mind that lyrics got changed, most of the changes are pretty minimal, and that's okay. But when you change it from
Santa Fe, are you there?
Do you swear you won't forget me?
Santa fe, you can bet,
we won't let them bastards beat us
That bugs the life out of me, because it was just as powerful of a song without adding a bunch of unnecessary language. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it needs to be there. They added a lot of swearing, which bothered me, because it was just there to emphasize stuff. At one point, Jack say, "And the strike starts right damn now." No one talks like that. What's the point of it?
A lot of the new songs they added for the musical were good, (I mean, come on Alan Menken wrote them, so obviously, they're good.) but they didn't really fit the time period. Katherine's song, "Watch What Happens" had so many phrases that were so not accurate to the time.
"This is big, lady, don't screw it up."
That doesn't fit at all. It's not accurate, and it's annoying.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I really liked some of the changes. At one point, during Seize the Day, Jack and Davey sing,
Behold the brave battalion that stands side by side
Too few in number and too proud to hide
Which is a cool line, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
5.) Finally, my last main problem with the musical is that I did not connect to a single character. I mean it focuses on Jack and his problems, but even though Jeremy was a great actor (he really was: very charismatic, and he knew how to own a stage) I didn't really feel an emotional connection to Jack or any of the Newsies. In the movie, you kind of get to know all the newsies a little, and it's sad when things don't go their way.
In the musical you can't really tell one newsie apart from the others, and I missed that.
It's probably just me, but I like the way the newsies sang better in the movie. The songs had more emotion, even though the boys that sang them were untrained and really young.
In the musical, despite the fact that all the newsies were at least twenty, the songs didn't make me feel like I was part of the strike instead of just listening to it. And I don't know, I think a bunch of vocally trained adults should be able to put as much emotion into their singing as the kids from the nineties did.
Yeah. So to sum up,
I think the musical had the potential to be great, and it sort of didn't quite make it there. I wanted to like it so much, I think maybe my expectations were too high.
The dance numbers in the musical were awesome! I mean, holy cow, that's a bunch of agile guys. I loved the dancing in the musical a lot.
And wow, the sets were incredible.
I think they tried too hard to make Newsies a big old "everyone gets rights!" instead of the basic, "Newsies are employees too."
I think the movie plot worked better, and flowed better than it did in the musical.
And I maintain that it was a big mistake changing Denton into a girl.
That being said, I won't say I didn't enjoy watching the musical. It's really fun, and it's really clean, unlike Les Mis or Jekyll and Hyde. Despite the fact that I personally think the movie is better, I think the musical is pretty good, and, give me a little more time, I'd probably watch it again with my sisters. (If I can talk them into it.)
It's a really good musical!
I just think the movie was so special to me that I flipped when the musical didn't add up to my expectations.
Alright, I have come, I have vented very one-sidedly, I shall go.
Have you seen the movie?
Have you seen the musical?
Have you seen both?
Which do you prefer? (I promise not to be a jerk if you like the musical better. ;)
Do you think I'm being silly?