Disney has had some pretty phenomenal luck with translating their films into stage production from Mary Poppins to The Little Mermaid to that little show called Lion King. And now they are getting ready to bring another movie from the vaults into a living, breathing full stage musical. This time they aren’t using a animated Disney classic or a uber-popular beloved family film as fodder, they went deep into the vaults and revisited a film that initially was a flop…the 1992 musical Newsies.
But there is a good reason why they choose this box office bomb…
Steve Fickinger – the VP of Creative Development and Licensing for the show – addressed the whole ‘fail’ thing saying that it, “Failed, failed. I think it made maybe three million bucks. It was in the theater for one weeks, one week, a famous failure. But it developed this cult following on home video, and there is a generation of kids who, uh, again, you know, let’s meet me in age, were now maybe twenty-five, twenty-eight, thirty, this movie is like a religion for them. They know everything about it, they know every word, they know every lyric, they know the moves.” And the public, they wanted a Newsies musical, it was the number one most requested titles to be considered for the stage.
Fickinger has been working for seven years to get from the idea stage to the real stage. He said, that when he “read that it was the number one most requested title, I thought, wow, I haven’t seen the movie. So I went home, and I put it in my DVD player, and when it started, I thought, oh, yeah, I get, this is going to be a great, to make a musical, terrific. About halfway through, you go, huh? Huh? The story really falls apart. It’s not a great movie.” But they made some changes, did a little of this, a little of that. They got eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Little Mermaid) to do the music. They got four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy) to do the book. And they got a cast of extremely talents young singers, dances and actors to make it all come alive.
Fickinger believes the show is going to do great saying, “I think that this is going to be a terrific experience for everyone who comes to see it.” He added, “I do believe in heart, I do believe in humor, I do believe in emotion, and I think Newsies has all those things, so I think it’s gonna be terrific.”
You can see for yourself when it opens at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre for a limited engagement of 101 performances. You can find out more about the show right here.