Newsies: The Broadway Musical

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Newsies: The Broadway Musical

A photo from a strike led by children.

A photo from a strike led by children.

Goran Horvat

A photo from a strike led by children.

Goran Horvat

Goran Horvat

A photo from a strike led by children.

Sheridan Rowell

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 “And the world will know: we been keepin’ score. Either they gives us our rights or we gives them a war.”

 

Due to the prohibition of child labor in the United States by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, children now no longer have to worry about strenuous toil and/or unsafe working conditions. We wouldn’t be in this situation, however, had it not been for the young workers who came before us and fought for their rights. In the summer of 1899, newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer raised the price of papers due to the increased interest in news during the Spanish-American War. Once the war ended and interest faded out, however, the price was too much for the newsboys and newsgirls (called “newsies”) to handle. The Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical Newsies (based on the 1992 film of the same name) showcases this story in a brilliant way, combining history with song and dance.

 

When the musical begins, we are immediately introduced to Jack Kelly, the leader of the Lower Manhattan newsies (and future leader of the strike), and Crutchie Morris, a younger newsie who has to use a crutch to get around. They sing about how much they want to leave New York and go to Santa Fe instead, where they have little work and a lot of free time. Almost immediately afterwards, we are introduced to the other newsies, such as Racetrack Higgins and Albert DaSilva, as they all sing about how much they enjoy their jobs selling papers.

 

In the next scene, Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of The World, is struggling with the circulation of his papers being down. He and his cronies eventually come to the conclusion that if they heighten the prices of papers for the newsies, the children would have to sell more papers just to earn what they did before, thus increasing circulation.

 

The next day, the newsies receive word of the price increase and start to fumble for a solution. They then unionize and decide to go on strike. Later, they meet up at their local deli where Katherine Plumber, a female reporter, shows up to report on their strike. She is met with protest due to the fact that she is a woman and only reports on entertainment, but is ultimately given permission to use the strike as a story.

 

The newsies go on strike, but are stopped by the police. During the fight, Crutchie is beaten and taken away to the Refuge, a jail for children which is owned by a man who keeps the money he is given by the government instead of using it to provide for the kids. While this happens, Jack runs away.

 

Later, the Lower Manhattan newsies are joined by the neighboring boroughs and they begin another strike. This time, they get to meet with Pulitzer in order to negotiate a deal. They come to the agreement that the price stays the same, but the companies have to buy back any papers that the newsies do not sell.

 

By the story, it might not sound like it could be shown through song and dance, but the musical does it perfectly. The fights are shown brilliantly through dance and the actors put so much emotion into the songs that they make you feel their characters’ pain as well.

 

Newsies ended its Broadway run in 2014, with the national tour ending in 2016. A professional recording was created after the tour ended and was screened on certain dates throughout the year 2017 (Wikipedia). The recording is now available for online purchase, along with the Original Broadway Cast Recording. The OBCR is also available on most streaming services.

 

“So the world says no? Well the kids do, too. Try to walk all over us, we’ll stomp all over you” (Genius).

 

SOURCES

“Newsies (Musical).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Sept. 2019,

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsies_(musical).

 

“Newsies Original Broadway Cast (Ft. Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Ben Fankhauser, Jeremy Jordan

(Actor) & Lewis Grosso Matthew Schechter) – The World Will Know.” Genius, 15 May 

2012, genius.com/Newsies-original-broadway-cast-the-world-will-know-lyrics.

 

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