Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrying the banner

I bought Newsies on BluRay for my nieces and nephew for Christmas, after a conversation with Mi Hermana about exposing them to more history.

It's no secret that it's one of my favorite movies. I hope the kids like it as much as my sisters and I did.

Earlier this year, my mother took me to see the stage production. To my surprise, it featured not only new songs but a generally different character

Jack is apparently a great doodler and a talented budding young political cartoonist, rather than merely an orphan who wants to escape New York. I didn't mind that change so much, except that they revised the lyrics to "Santa Fe" so that when I was singing along at the top of my lungs, it was to the movie lyrics instead. Awkward.

The newspaper reporter (played by Bill Pullman in the movie) and David's sister were taken out and condensed into one character: a female reporter who is also the love interest for Jack. I didn't mind this change so much, either.

But the unforgivable change was that said reporter is revealed to secretly be the daughter of Hearst, and she and her rich kid friends (the children of Pulitzer and Astor) are super eager to show their support for the newsboys' strike. Rather than letting the story stand as one where near-destitute orphans empower and organize themselves to form a union and fight for a fair contract, this Broadway version makes the capitalists all friendly and nice after all. I think it detracts from the original story and lessens its power.

I left the theatre wondering why such a big change would have been written in to the stage, and the only reason I can think of is to make it accessible to the more privileged kids who are likely to be able to (afford and) see it performed.

I'm glad I finally saw the stage production; I'm just disappointed that the story took something away from the original tale that merged by tween love of musicals and history.