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Some history behind “Newsies The Musical”

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When Live Oak Theatre presents “Newsies The Musical” they will be delivering their own unique take on a production that has made quite a few headlines since its debut in the early 90s.

The core story of “Newsies” remains the same, in that it tells the dynamic story of the real-life newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City. In which a group of brave, working class young men went up against publishing titan Joseph Pulitzer. Young hero Jack Kelly, a rebel with dreams of becoming an artist, leads his fellow newsboys in a revolt after Pulitzer elevates newspaper purchase prices at the newsboys’ expense.

This story was dramatized first in the 1992 musical film “Newsies,” a Disney production that marked a number of theatrical milestones. Including the nomination of a Young Artist Award for
Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture. In addition, the film marked early performances by respected actor Christian Bale, along with long-established character actors Max Casella, Luke Edwards, Gabriel Damon, David Moscow, and Ele Keats.

“Newsies” the motion picture also was nominated for a Razzie Award, an honor reserved for films considered the worst of the year. And, sadly, the film version of Newsies was considered a flop at the box office.

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Yet through the years, the news about “Newsies” began to change and infinitely for the better. Young audiences discovered the film on VHS and DVD, and, perhaps because of its appeal to both aspiring journalists and slumber party guests enamored with the movie’s handsome young stars, the movie became a party staple with plenty, thusly called “fansies.” And it goes without saying, copious fan fiction followed.

Yet “Newsies” was bound for greater glory still: the Broadway stage. The theatrical production of “Newsies” features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein based on the film’s screenplay by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 and made its Broadway debut in 2012, where it played for more than 1,000 performances before touring and won the Tony Awards for Best Choreography and Best Original Score.

The Broadway stage production made a star of actor Jeremy Jordan, and the production itself was filmed for a limited movie theater release; Bringing “Newsies” home to both the stage and screen.

“Newsies” is a production we can relate to at the Hernando Sun. We don’t have newspaper boys or girls on the streets, but newspaper sales is still a cut-throat and challenging problem, which we’ve periodically written about in a column called “Rack Wars.” Additionally, a memorable moment for us at the Hernando Sun, a number from “Newsies” was performed by a distinguished group of Hernando thespians; The children of Hernando Sun owners Rocco and Julie Maglio, who dressed as “Newsies” and performed a show number at the newspaper’s fourth anniversary celebration!

We won’t be doing any dance numbers, but the Hernando Sun newspaper will make a special appearance on the set of Live Oak’s “Newsies The Musical.” All of the stacks of newspapers in the production will be your local paper, The Hernando Sun.

“Newsies” will be performed on March 18, 20, 25, 26, 27, April 1, 2, & 3 at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville.

Advanced seats for Newsies are $20 for adults and $8 for children ages thirteen and under, when accompanied by an adult. Evening shows are at 7:30 pm and matinees are at 2:30 pm. Tickets at the door are increased to $25 for adults and $10 for children with an accompanying adult. Advanced prices are available up to 24 hours before each performance. For specific performance dates and times, and to purchase tickets, go to https://liveoaktheatre.square.site/ or email [email protected] or call 352-593-0027.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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