Newsies Still Packs Them In, a Year After Jeremy Jordan Departed

Newsies Broadway Musical

Newsies Broadway Musical

Encouraged by the New York newsboy strike of 1899, Disney’s cathartic production of Newsies the Musical first premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 2011, quickly moving on to the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway in the spring of 2012.  Whether it is because the show has been running on Broadway for an extensive period of time or the show wrestles without an attention reeling name like Jeremy Jordan, this Disney musical has not been living up to its full potential this year, compared to the last. (Jeremy Jordan left Newsies on Sept 4 2012 to pursue his dream of TV fame in the musical drama TV series Smash which aired on NBC and ended its 2nd, and final, season on May 26, 2013)

When Newsies first opened on Broadway in the March of 2012, they were averaging 100.8% in ticket sales and were grossing an average of $937,788.92, in comparison to January of 2013. Up until now they have been averaging 95.6% in ticket sales and are grossing an average of $847,072.23, with a 97% of theatre seats sold on average every night.  Looking at this data, there was not a colossal loss, possibly because in the beginnings of this production, people were so anxious about this musical being an adaptation to the popular 1992 film, starring Christian Bale. Compared to the movie, the musical is much longer and more care and precision have been placed into it.

Recasting has always been a difficult task to execute and even though the show has fared critically in monetary terms, Jeremy Jordan’s replacement, Corey Cott, has been fairly up to par. The emotional build up for every number is not nearly as tantamount to what Jeremy set the standards for, but Corey manages to pull off an astounding performance with a voice similar to Jeremy’s, making up for many of the weak moments to the female lead’s, Kara Lindsay’s, singing. Albeit the humorous, witty journalistic jokes and snappy, energetic attitude, Kara lacks this sort of resilience and strength, for the most part; coming off seemingly reserved and as if she is holding herself back, teetering along the lines of the melody and not quite hitting all of her notes. (Maybe this is due to the exhausting eight-shows-a-week schedule.)

Aside from the exciting dance numbers and character developments, there is exceptional use of the limited space on stage. The construction of the set, along with the essence of New York, is captured quite perfectly. A gate at the top of each moving staircase so that they can connect or detach from each other exacerbates the excitement of the chase-run scenes. The backdrop is tastefully modern, displaying shifting scenery or showing words from a typewriter whenever Kara’s character speaks what she is so furiously typing. Any seat in the house could clearly see what was going on, although being in the front few aisles definitely opens up your eyes to the deliberate sweat dripping and spit flying everywhere.

Even though Disney’s target market is for families of all ages, female fans of the Christian Bale movie of the same name, the audience demographic at this show seems to skew to an older, more mature crowd who may find solace in this hopeful musical because of the very pertinent modern day financial and social struggles.

With tattered corduroys and newsboy cap wearing orphan boys selling newspapers, desperate to make a living out on the cutthroat streets of New York, Newsies pulls at the heartstrings, bringing to mind the toil of making a living on Broadway, or simply the everyday strife that everybody trudges through. With no foul language or anything particularly scandalous to worry about, overall, this show is quite uplifting, entertaining, and sublime for families.

Broadway Stars Join For Anti-Defamation League Concert

Side By Side Against HateOn November 25, a concert event titled “The Anti-Defamation League & Broadway: Side By Side Against Hate for 100 Years” will bring together several Broadway performers at the Hudson Theatre in the New York City theater district. The event will be held at 8pm.

Written by playwright Jonathan Tolins (Buyer & Cellar, Twilight of the Golds) and directed by Ted Sperling, the event commemorates the League’s 100 year history of fighting hate and bigotry through a selection of Broadway songs.

Eden Espinosa, Robert Cuccioli, Lillias White, Carolee Carmello, André De Shields, Randy Graff, Michael McElroy, Stephen DeRosa, Jesse Manocherian, Jason Robert Brown, and The Mark Stuart Dance Company are among those scheduled to participate in The Anti-Defamation League & Broadway concert.

Broadway writer Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, and She Loves Me) will be specially honored during the evening with a Lifetime Achievement Award (celebrating his 90th birthday, Harnick will even perform a duet with Randy Graff). Producer Harriet Newman Leve will be honored with a Distinguished Leadership Award and Adam Blanshay will be given a Future of Broadway Award.

Tickets for this benefit concert start at $75 and go as high as $1,000. Purchase online at adl.org/broadway100.

Broadway Solo Show Ghetto Klown Will Be Filmed for TV

Ghetto KlownActor and comedian John Leguizamo’s most recent Broadway solo show, Ghetto Klown, concluded its run at the Lyceum Theatre in 2011, but those who missed it (or simply want a chance to see it again) will have the opportunity soon thanks to HBO.

When John Leguizamo performs Ghetto Klown at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on November 16, the show will be filmed by HBO to air on the cable network sometime in the Spring of 2014. Fisher Stevens, who directed the Broadway production of the one-man comedy, will also direct the taping.

In Ghetto Klown, Leguizamo relives his youthful memories growing up in New York City, focusing on the early days of his career as a performer, including his solo theater shows and his foray into movies playing opposite some of the film world’s biggest personalities.

Tony nominated for his previous shows Freak and Sexaholix, John Leguizamo is well known to both stage and film audiences. He has appeared in movies such as Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and Ice Age, and on TV in ER.

Broadway Performers Joel Grey and Brooke Shields Named Living Landmarks

Joel Grey

Joel Grey

Every year the New York Landmarks Conservancy honors people who they dub as “living landmarks,” and this year two stage performers of different generations, Joel Grey and Brooke Shields, will be recognized in their annual event taking place at The Plaza in Manhattan on November 14.

One of the most respected elder statesman of the Broadway theater, Joel Grey has starred in Broadway musicals such as Cabaret, Chicago, Wicked, and most recently Anything Goes. Brooke Shields initially gained fame in film and television, but she has also appeared on Broadway a number of times in productions like Grease, Wonderful Town, and The Addams Family.

A Living Landmark herself, Liz Smith, will host the event, and music will be provided by Peter Duchin and his Orchestra. Tickets for the Living Landmarks gala are a pricey $1,000 (or $10,000 for a table). Call 212-995-5260 or email JennaSmith@nylandmarks.org for tickets and information.