SPOILERS: Disney’s the Newsies the Musical

There have been a lot of questions swirling about in regards to the changes between the original Disney film the Newsies and the stage musical production of the same name.

In my original review I made a point of glossing over any major plot / character changes that may reveal too much of what is going to happen in the stage production. However, I am sure that there are people out there that are curious about what changes were made in the musical and how was the storyline changed.

Well I am posting that for you… mind you this is a SPOILER and all bits about the changes in the show will be just beyond the break. You enter at your own risk and as thus you cannot blame me for spoiling the musical for you.

You’re still reading? Seriously? Are you sure?

Ok… if you insist on being spoiled on Disney’s the Newsies… don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What I will do is go through the various characters that have undergone major changes, then will look at the songs / music and finally the storyline in general.

– He apparently has an artistic side to him. They gave him the talent of sketching and painting. In fact he has done shown this talent on occasion twice in the show
– Jack Kelly has not been captured by Snyder and as thus was never in court in front of the other Newsies with the reveal of “Jack Kelly” being more of a front
– Jack Kelly never crossed the line to become a scab, instead he sells out the Newsies by retracting everything he promised to say at the big Newsies rally at Medda’s theatre.

– Combination of Bryan Denton and Sarah Jacobs (sister of David and Les).
– Daughter of Joseph Pulitzer
– Writer for the New York Sun the competitor of the New York World (run by Pultizer)

– The song “My Lovey Dovey Baby” was replaced by “That’s Rich” while “High Times Hard Times” was cut from the musical production

– “Santa Fe” is used as the opening song introducing Jack Kelly to the audience and his desires and dreams as he talks to Crutchie about them in the alleys of New York. It is also used as the final song in Act One after the Newsies were beated into the ground by the bulls when they were striking and Crutchie was taken away.
– “The Bottom Line” is a song added and given to Pulitzer as he convinces his team that the best way to make a profit is by raising the price the Newsies have to pay for their papes
– “Don’t Come A-Knocking / I Never Planned on You” is a duet given to Jack and Katherine when they meet at Medda’s Theatre
– “Watch What Happens” is Katherine’s primary solo as she agonizes over how to write about the Newsies strike, amongst other things
– “Brooklyn’s Here” introduces Spot Conlon and other Newsies from other boroughs of New York City as they meet at the Newsies rally
– “Something to Believe In” is the second duet between Jack Kelly and Katherine Plummer

There is a considerable amount of dancing in this production, but it’s not necessarily non-stop dancing. The following numbers do have dancing:
– “Carrying the Banner”
– “The World Will Know”
– “Seize the Day”
– “King of New York”
As you can see, these are pretty much the same songs that had considerable dancing in the original film version of the Newsies. However, most of the above songs have extended dance sequences that isn’t as long in the movie.

In general the storyline when dealing with the newsies as a whole has stayed true to the original film to almost to the tee. However, it is the storyline of Jack Kelly and his life as interwoven with the newsies that has had the most significant change. The following is a point by point of what has changed within the Jack Kelly plotline (and a few extensions to other characters as necessary):
– When Jack, Davey and Les hide in Medda Larkson’s theatre, it is there that Jack meets his romantic interest: Katherine Plummer
– Katherine and Jack bicker a little, and Jack realizes that he is enamoured by Katherine and creates a sketch of her as she is reviewing Medda’s show (the audience gets to see this sketch as he’s drawing it)
– We never see Jack going to see Crutchie after Crutchie was taken away, nor did Davey go with him. Instead Jack disappears completely from the picture and considers running away from New York completely during the “Santa Fe (reprise)” at the end of Act One. Jack is also absent as the Newsies and Katherine sing and dance during “King of New York”. Later Davey, Les, and Katherine hunt Jack down and convince him to join the Newsies rally and get everyone up and ready for a massive strike.
– Jack Kelly goes straight to Pultizer to give the Newsies demands only to find out that Katherine is already there (she was there earlier, being given a thorough talking to by her father, Joseph Pultizer) and is promptly taken away and led to the basement of the building where the old printing press was located
– Pultizer later tells Jack that if he wants to avoid being sent back to the juvenile detention facility run by Snyder (also called “The Refuge”) he would have to go to the newsies strike rally and detract everything that he had said before… Jack does so.
– Katherine waits for Jack at his rooftop and has been sifting through his sketches. She convinces him to fight against her father
– Jack, Davey and Les wait for Katherine at the old printing press and she introduces him to two others of her standing (sons of other major newspaper heads) who help to fix and cleanup and get the old printing press up and running
– When the Newsies win with the strike, Jack is offered a job as an illustrator for political images

There you have it… all the changes (that I recall) that happened during the show. The one major disappointment that I had was the scene / moment that Jack Kelly was revealed to be a fake name in front of all the Newsies after they had the newsies rally. I thought that was the strongest emotional piece between Jack the leader and all the Newsies… and the subsequent Jack turning into the scab. A lot of the emotional discord came from those particular pieces and I thought the revisions didn’t have the same emotional punch than the movie in that regard.

On the other hand, even though I was at first not very thrilled about the composite character of Katherine Plummer, in a lot of ways it made some sense. But I still liked Jack falling for Sarah Jacobs as opposed to the daughter of his “enemy”.

The final bit of Jack getting a job working for the company that he fought against with the Newsies and the subsequent taking of the job almost seems like a sell-out to my eyes… Again, I could see why it was done, but it almost seemed too neat and tidy of an ending. Ah well.

Anyway, I hope for those of you that can’t make the trip to New York find the above useful. For a die-hard Newsies fan, the musical may or may not come as a disappointment. For me, I love the music (sans the lyrics) and the choreography and the set design enough that I really wouldn’t mind going a second time. In the end, it is entirely up to you. =)

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