At a press event yesterday for the Broadway-bound production of Newsies, the cast and creative team behind the cult 1992 Disney movie musical discussed one of the most important parts of the project – pleasing the passionate fans – and one erstwhile newsboy in particular.
For 20 years, Newsies fans – called “Fansies” – clung only to a VHS tape (later a DVD) and a soundtrack for the original film, which starred Christian Bale as a newspaper seller who leads the New York City newsboy strike of 1899. When the announcement leaked that Newsies would finally make the much-anticipated jump to the stage at the Paper Mill Playhouse in September, the Fansies rejoiced.
“All of the fans had already heard about it by the time we were putting it up at Paper Mill,” said Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles), who wrote the book for the stage adaptation. “Newsies is a show about young people, and young people make the best fans.”
“I think it’s kids being empowered,” said Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), the Oscar-winning composer who lent Newsies its infectious score. “It was their movie musical. They’re total fanatics, and they’re of course everywhere. They’re in my family. My daughters are very, very protective of the piece, much more so than anything else I’ve ever done. They’re like, ‘Don’t screw it up, Dad. Just don’t screw it up.’”
Even the show’s young stars who grew up with the movie consider themselves to be a part of the cult fan base. “The Newsies fans are a whole different breed,” said Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who plays Crutchy. “I think they’re even more ravenous, in the best sense of the word.”
The question on the cast members’ minds, though, is whether one famous figure from Newsies past will make an appearance.
“I would love to have some sort of contact with Christian Bale,” said Jeremy Jordan, who is reprising Bale’s role as Jack Kelly in the Broadway production. “I know he sort of disavows himself from Newsies, and I don’t really know the whole story behind that, but maybe he’ll come back around [and] at least come and see it.”
“I think he’s not really proud of being a part of [Newsies] because it might be fluffy to him, maybe,” said Kara Lindsay, who plays Jack’s love interest, an enterprising reporter. “He’s done these really serious parts recently in his life, but he was a young kid and should be proud of it. Christian Bale, come see our show!”
“Come see the show!” agreed Jordan. “But come dressed as Batman.”