Broadways Best
 
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      They may look amazing and talented on their television performances, but don't be fooled, these Newsies not only lack energy, but they lack heart, soul, and good material. The book of Newsies, now playing at the Nederlander Theatre, is by Harvey Fierstein, who tries, unsuccessfully, to write a standard Broadway musical out of the 1992 movie that gained a cult-following after flopping at the box office. He even goes with the "finally-have-the-lead-stand-up-for-their-cause-at-the-end-of-the-first-act" method. He fails most completely at this, as well as at putting heart and soul into the characters. There is no point in the show where we ever care about the newsboys cause. Not only do we never care about their cause, but we never care about any of the characters or their hopes and dreams. You would think that a solo for the lead male character Jack Kelly, played by Jeremy Jordan, about his dreams of running away to Santa Fe, properly titled "Santa Fe", would make us care and feel for this family-less, poor, hard-working boy, but instead I was reminded of how good Jeremy Jordan was in the challenging well written role of Clyde in "Bonnie and Clyde", and how he is given nothing of substantialness and nothing that shows anything interesting about this character and nothing we even care about in this character. He tries to do something with his character, but what can he do with a characterless, heartless book. And I, unlike many people, enjoyed the movie, which made you care for the characters and their cause, feel the scared, excited, and hopeful mixed feelings of the newsboys as they fight for what they believe in. The movie also had a fun, childish sort of feel to it, where you realized these were only kids having to face adult problems what seemed to be too early in their young lives. Instead in the musical we feel that these newsboys are all glamour and no heart. They do what they are told, but what they are told just doesn't work.
       Then there comes the issue of the dancing. Christopher Gatelli obviously has talent, but when it comes to this show, there are many set pieces that are moved by the actors themselves who literally stop dancing and pull on set pieces as others continue to dance. It looks, overall, sloppy, messy, and just mediocre. His dance numbers also make the rag-tag newsboys look like they are background players in a Marilyn Monroe movie, full of glamour and style. In the movie, these numbers were done with a raggy yet fun feel, whereas the actors in the musical play it with the sophistication of trained dancers, a boring, too serious, non-lower class feeling ideal that draws the already troubled show from bad to worse. If any of these big dance numbers were removed, the show might even be better, despite nothing that pops for the eye, instead it might pop for the heart. And the score has its moments, but because of the choreography and script, it loses everything that made the music fun and enjoyable in the movie. Then again many of the songs fail to achieve their goal and just end up ensuing into big dance numbers that do exactly the opposite of making us care for their cause. The songs also have weird melodies, and each song feels as if it is either too short or too long, but by the end of each number I thought, "That was it?" And none of the songs even help make us care anymore, if anything they make us care even less. Every song also had me thinking, "Gee, I wonder why Once didn't win Best Score with their amazing score over this boring, nonsense, too "glamoury", non important score." If anything, this show would have just been better as a play with a different book writer. At least then it might have explored the seriousness, yet hard-working, pain, yet hopeful, scary, worried, optimistic-ness the newsboys went through. The actors, just like Mr. Jordan, all try to do the show justice, but the show is, utterly, and truly, hopeless. If anything, I recommend you save your money and go spend it on something that you can care about and feel for, not something that was pulled out of a perfectly good movie and glamorized by the creators into what tries to be an over-the-top, flashy, Wicked-esque musical.


 





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