Newsies, the musical about newspaper vendors that starred a young, still-smiling Christian Bale, may have been a flop upon release in 1992, but the film has since taken on a life of its own. Newsies is now a cult classic, and the revival is only getting stronger - the movie is making the leap to the stage this fall.
A stage version of Newsies will open the fall season of the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn New Jersey this September. And original composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman are getting back together to bring new life to the old songs - as well as write brand new ones.
For Menken it was a labor of love. Menken said to the New York Times:
[My agent] told me: ‘You don’t have to get involved. They’ll take your songs, and someone else will come and write new ones. I just want to let you know.’ I said, ‘Oh, no. No, no, no. It’s my baby, no.’ ‘Alan, there’s not going to be any money.’ ‘I don’t care. I don’t care, this is my baby.’
There will be some major changes in the new show, including the addition of a female newsie who will serve as a love interest for Jack (Christian Bale’s character). Menken explains:
My daughter went to a girl’s camp where they did ‘Newsies,’ and they invented a character of Swifty for her to play. She said, ‘Dad, if you ever do “Newsies” on stage, you’ve got to let Swifty be in the show.’
There’s still a way to go - there’s been no casting yet, and Menken is still working with legendary Broadway figure Harvey Fierstein on how to work Swifty into the story (Fierstein is writing the book for the show). But it seems a safe bet that this show will be a hit, as there’s a massive Newsies fanbase just waiting to be served. And who knows - maybe 2012 will be the 20th anniversary of the film and the announcement of a film adaptation of the show.