HillSide Story: ‘Newsies’

Graphic by Aiden Menchaca / The Tufts Daily

We are back again with another musical recorded on stage. This time it is “Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical!” (2017). Let’s start by answering the question that is on everyone’s mind: Did you two go out on a weeknight to see this in a movie theater one of the few days it was being shown a few years ago? Yes. We absolutely did that. That’s right, everyone. During our first year at Tufts, we saw this recorded Broadway musical in theaters, and now we’re watching it during our senior spring. “Newsies” takes us back to the end of the 19th century where Jack Kelly (played by our favorite and yours, Jeremy Jordan) and his fellow orphans-turned-newspaper sellers plan to go on strike in order to earn the pay they deserve. Ordinarily, this standoff between the newsies and Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard) would be incredibly boring to learn about, but this musical does a great job of making this story more exciting to watch. The Broadway musical is jam-packed with incredible dance numbers and inspiring songs, all performed on a grandiose set. If you’re lacking energy during this quarantine, try watching “Newsies” to hype yourself up.   

Allie Morgenstern (AM): I haven’t seen this musical since Anna and I saw it during our first year at Tufts together. I remember after seeing it I was really into listening to the cast recording. There’s nothing like hearing Jeremy Jordan sing to brighten your day. What a guy.

Anna Hirshman (AH): I prepared for watching this musical by spending the last few days watching interviews with and performance clips by Jeremy Jordan. It is a great way to pass the time. After this I am going to rewatch “Smash” (2012–2013) again. Jordan’s smile (and talent) is so infectious. As Katherine (Kara Lindsay), the lead female character — and one of the only female characters — says, “[it’s] a face that could save us all from sinking in the ocean.”

AM: I would like to second that statement. I lost track of how many times I felt the need to outwardly declare my love for Jeremy Jordan while watching this musical. When you find a man who is as talented and handsome as Jeremy Jordan, you keep him. Ashley Spencer (his wife) is a very lucky lady. So is Kara Lindsay, who plays Katherine, because they — spoiler alert — kiss! Exciting! 

AH: The only part of Jordan’s character that bothers me comes in the form of the writing. I have yet to understand the obsession with Santa Fe among musical theatre writers. There are songs about people who are living tough lives wanting to move to Santa Fe in both “Rent” (1996) and “Newsies.” There are a lot of sunny and warm cities in the United States, so why Santa Fe?

AM: I’ve never thought about this before, but it’s a good point. I think I was too caught up in Jeremy’s flawless vocals in the song “Santa Fe.”

AH: Regardless, it took me way too long to get into “Newsies,” and I am the first to admit it. I should have known I would love it, though, based on my love of “Cats” (1980). Yes, I love “Cats,” and you cannot change my mind about that. Both of these musicals provide the perfect combination of catchy songs and normally not-humanly-possible dancing. How do those newsboys move the way they do?

AM: It’s true. These boys leap so high! And spin so many times! Such talent! Plus, the catchy songs are insanely energetic and will get stuck in my head for days at a time. Some of my favorites include, “The World Will Know,” “Watch What Happens” and “Seize the Day,” all of which gave me the chills at one point or another. Kara Lindsay absolutely crushes “Watch What Happens.” This song reminds me a lot of my inner thoughts. She spends a lot of time in the song just rambling and saying a lot of things in not a lot of time. Relatable. I’m amazed she doesn’t get tongue-twisted. 

AH: The Tufts Daily has never had an official theme song, but I think “Watch What Happens” is a top contender. Lindsay’s performance and the incredible lyrics really encompass what every journalist wants to be: an independent change-maker who gives the voiceless a voice. 

AM: Katherine is a savage. She gets to say all the sick burns.

AH: The women are the beating heart of this musical. In addition to Lindsay’s portrayal of Katherine, Aisha De Haas who plays Medda Larkin is a powerful woman who saves Jack Kelly and the rest of the newsies on multiple occasions — and, as she likes to remind us, she is rich. The two of them are significantly funnier than anyone else in this musical. I maintain that the next revival or version of “Newsies” should have female newsies. It would allow for some really epic pairs numbers that are rarely seen on the stage. 

AM: I support that. Who do we have to email to make this happen? 

AH: Alan Menken, maybe? Back to what is really important, in “King of New York,” when all of the newsies are discussing the benefits of their newfound fame, one of the boys says he wants a “pastrami on rye with a sour pickle” and that hit me deep. I, too, would request a classic New York deli sandwich after a brush with fame. 

AM: It’s such a great number. The tap dancing is so much fun to watch. The talent in this musical amazes me. Although, I hate to say it, but I’m not a pastrami fan. But, I have definitely thought a lot about what I’d do if I were famous. Meeting Meryl Streep is definitely on the (never-ending) list. Anyway, watching this musical was a highlight of my weekend. It’s so important to find the little things that make you happy during this time. 

AH: Whether you are a newsie, Medda Larkin or Teddy Roosevelt, keep working to make the world a better place for yourself and the people around you. And watching a Disney musical never hurts.


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