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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Newsies: The Broadway Musical is a filmed musical play, shot live at a performance in the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. Based on the 1992 Disney movie Newsies starring Christian Bale, this production brings the immediacy and vibrancy of a theatrical experience directly to its audiences. Set at the turn of the 20th century when workers were often exploited by "captains of industry," Newsies tells the true story of a ragtag team of newsboys who form a union to fight the greediness of New York's major newspapers. In this musical version, a few swear words are heard: "damn," "hell," "bastards," "asses." Mild physical struggles occur, all set to music and mostly danced, include fistfighting and pretend hits with batons/clubs. No injuries are sustained. A teen holds an unlit cigar in his mouth during most of his scenes. The 1992 film was not an immediate success, but garnered a large, enthusiastic fan base over the years. Minimal changes were made for the Broadway show (i.e., a few songs added or deleted, and the hero's love interest has a new identity and backstory). This film offers a rare opportunity to witness a live Broadway show, with extraordinary dancing, acting, and music that will appeal to musical lovers and introduce the theater musical to new fans everywhere.
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What's the story?
It's 1899 in NEWSIES: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL. Kids work for pennies to bring money home to their families. Desperately poor folks work long hours in abominable conditions to make a meager living. In this true story about a hugely successful "strike" by the newsboys of New York City, Jack Kelly (Jeremy Jordan) leads the fight for fair treatment and fair wages against a pillar of the news publishing establishment: Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard). The tycoon literally wants to squeeze every dime from the sale of his "papes." And it has been OK with the struggling kids until they're finally pushed too far. When Pulitzer demands the boys pay more for their supply of newspapers, Jack Kelly unites the boys. They'll strike and refuse to sell the papers until their wages are restored. Pulitzer pushes back with an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the collection of protestors -- the union. With Katherine (Kara Lindsay), a vivacious but surprising reporter as their ally, Jack and his buddies stand firm, bring Pulitzer and his cronies to their knees, and win big for everyone.
Is it any good?
What a great experience is in store for folks who otherwise don't get to see great Broadway musicals like this one, with stellar dancing, great music, engaging performances, and delightful comedy. Newsies: The Broadway Musical, available on DVD and streaming, has a terrific true story to tell. The underdogs -- very young newspaper hawkers -- take on a very rich publishing mogul and sing and dance their way to victory. Director Brett Sullivan expertly films the theatrical production, which is directed by Jeff Calhoun, with choreography by Christopher Gattelli. It's exuberant, corny in the best possible way, and satisfying on all counts. Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly is simply wonderful. The supporting cast, including the multitalented Ben Fankhouser and Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and an excellent ensemble fill the stage with high spirits and contagious energy. Highly recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about characters from movie musicals as role models. How do Jack Kelly, Katherine, and Crutchie and the others make important changes in their 1899 world? How does Newsies emphasize such important character strengths as teamwork, courage, and perseverance?
Even musical movies can educate as well as entertain. How did Newsies: The Broadway Musical, set in 1899, increase your understanding of unionism in the early 20th century? Find out how unions filled an important role in protecting American workers from corporate abuse. If you know a member of a union, ask him or her about the relevance of unions in today's world.
Disney continues to re-create some of its most popular movies on the Broadway stage. In what ways do those productions assure an enthusiastic audience and lessen the risk that comes with mounting an original story?
What are some of the many differences between shooting a live-action musical movie and filming a staged version of a theatrical musical production? Start with the shooting schedule. How long might it take to shoot a live-action musical movie? A theatrical stage musical? In a stage musical, is there any room for error? Can a sequence be re-shot?
- On DVD or streaming: September 1, 2017
- Cast: Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser
- Director: Brett Sullivan
- Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 134 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some language, mild action, and smoking images
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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