The musical Newsies is based on the 1992 film with the same name, starring Christian Bale (at the beginning of his career) and Robert Duvall. Newsies is a bit of an anomaly; most of the time, the movie follows the musical to make the story more accessible to audiences who do not live in New York City. However, the Tony Award-winning musical released it’s movie version first, and while it is now hailed as a modern classic, it had a rough start.

The original idea for ‘Newsies’ was inspired by a review of David Nasaw’s ‘Children of the City’, in which the reviewer mentioned that Nasaw had unearthed a movie-worthy story in the Newsboys Strike of 1899, an idea that screenwriter Bob Tzudiker immediately jumped on. Over the course of the the next few years, Tzudiker and his writing partner Noni White developed the idea and eventually presented the idea to Finnell/Dante Productions. The film did not become a musical until the mid-1990’s when Finnell/Dante Productions presented the idea to Disney. Inspired by the success of their animated musicals, the company decided that ‘Newsies’ would be the perfect project to to become a live-action movie musical.

While hopes were high for the release, the debut of the movie in 1992 was not the success that everyone had expected. In fact, it only grossed $2.8 million at the box office. However, the movie began to gain popularity through it’s release on VHS and by the early 2000’s, Disney began to consider the possibility of transforming the film into a stage musical.

The original writers began to rework the movie script, translating it to the stage. As with any adaptation, several changes had to be made. These changes involved mostly fleshing out the characters and adding several new songs to the score.

The stage production had its debut at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and was an immediate hit, resulting in the producers extending its four week run. In fact, the production was such a success that a 12-week run at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway, beginning in 2012. The two weeks quickly became two and a half years, which then became an extended two-year tour of the United States.

The Broadway production was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won two: Best Original Score and Best Choreography. And now Riverside can enjoy it here at River’s Edge theater.  

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