Friday, December 18, 2015

Another David and Goliath musical

Last night I went to see the show Newsies playing at the Opera House. Back in 1992 the movie Newsies was released by Disney. Don't worry if you didn't see it. Few did. But after it came out on DVD (or was this still the VCR era?) it developed a cult following. So Disney turned it into a stage musical a few years ago and it did quite well. It was nominated for several categories for the Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards, winning both for Best Choreography and Score.

I decided to see it partly because nearly all of the dancers are young men (what's not to like?) and partly because the plot revolves around how the newspaper boys build a community. They form a union and strike when the price of they must pay for papers is raised. Another David and Goliath story (they even use that phrase), a story about the rich oppressing the poor.

Overall, I enjoyed it. The dancing was great. The singing was too (though loud – they really didn't need to mic the actors). The set was quite interesting – three towers made of girders with stairs inside were moved forward and back with sections of screen that unrolled and various backdrops projected on them. But it was still Disney, especially in the plot – it was somewhat clichéd and predictable.

For example... Last April I saw the musical Urinetown. It was also about the rich oppressing the poor. The cliché: both shows have the daughter of the corporate owner becoming disgusted with the unscrupulous way her father does business and falling in love with the leader of the uprising.

Because there is such a following of the movie on DVD the Opera House was close to sold out. The audience was quite enthusiastic. And the guy sitting two seats away sang along with a couple of the songs.

In a promotional article for the show it said for the 1992 movie they had to scrounge to get enough young male dancers. Again, because DVD was so popular, when the stage show was announced young male dancers flocked to the audition.

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