As we look ahead to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, EW is taking a closer look at this season’s nominated selection of new musicals, plays, and revivals, all of which will be competing for Broadway’s highest honor! Today, we dive into this year’s nominees for Best Musical:
Opened: March 29, 2012
Starring: Jeremy Jordan, Ben Fankhauser, Kara Lindsay, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Jack Feldman; book by Harvey Fierstein; choreographed by Christopher Gattelli; directed by Jeff Calhoun
Synopsis: Disney’s latest outing is an adaptation of the 1992 film, which brings to full singing and dancing life the Newsboy Strike of 1899. The story follows a gang of paper-hawking ‘newsies’ — led by restless street vet Jack Kelly (Jordan) — as they launch a workers’ strike against newspaper bigwig Joseph Pulitzer.
EW’s Review: “Stop the presses! Disney has produced a winning, high-energy musical for family audiences that doesn’t include a single flying witch, talking animal, or dancing teacup. A– ” (Thom Geier)
Musical math: (Oliver! – Annie) + (West Side Story – In the Heights)
Download this: “Seize the Day”
Tony nominations: 8 — Best Musical; Best Book of a Musical (Harvey Fierstein); Best Original Score (Alan Menken and Jack Feldman); Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Jeremy Jordan); Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel); Best Choreography (Christopher Gattelli); Best Direction of a Musical (Jeff Calhoun); Best Orchestrations (Danny Troob)
Odds on winning: Disney has had its share of Broadways hits (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast) and misses (Tarzan, The Little Mermaid), but Newsies stands to take home quite a haul at the Tonys. For Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical, the show (and lead charmer Jeremy Jordan) faces direct competition from Once, which is small in stature but large in threat. The surest bets are Menken, Feldman, Gattelli, and Fierstein, who should easily walk away with the Tonys for Best Score, Best Choreography and Best Book of a Musical.
Choreographer Christopher Gattelli on stunts that didn’t make it in: “The boys actually joked about it, because I did say to them, ‘Show me what you all can do physically.’ I was that age, I went through that process. I could do some of that stuff they can do, so I wanted to feature them. I wanted to show the audience how hard these boys are working, [that] this is what they can do, this is what lifts them to that next level. So one by one it was like, ‘Okay, let’s see what you can do.’ The boys called it Circus McGurkus, because it is. It’s almost like there are fireworks happening. There were a ton of stunts that we could have done, but I tried to be really mindful about what you can do eight times a week. I said, ‘I want you all on stage. I don’t want anyone injured.’ I don’t want anyone sidelined, because then I would feel horrible. And we did learn: At Paper Mill [Playhouse, the New Jersey theater where the show had a trial run last fall], we did some stuff that eventually, throughout the course of the run, they were like, ‘Oof.’ So we refined it, and it evolves.”
Jeremy Jordan on what he’d tell his younger self about his Tony nomination: “He would probably freak out. I mean, I don’t think he ever expected this. When I was 15, it was still just an inkling of a dream. I wasn’t a kid who dreamed about it since he was 5 years old. Oh, I was a computer nerd and I loved science and things like that, but I was always a singer. I got into acting a little bit later, but I always loved Newsies, so if I had said that I would be originating Newsies on Broadway, I would have been like, ‘Can I get in a time machine and go right now?’ I don’t think I could wait 10 years. What surprised me is that people didn’t think we were going to make it this far. I always knew, from the very first time I read it, I was like, this is going to be huge, it’s gonna be big. And maybe it’s just me being over-sentimental because I was in love with it as a kid, but everything that I’ve expected should happen because of this piece, because of the group that we have, has happened. I’d be surprised if we weren’t where we are.”