27 January 2023

Interesting things you didn’t know about Newsies

Newsies is the latest historical musical to come to the West End stage, and after a highly successful Broadway run and US Tour, is delighting audiences and critics alike with its stunning choreography, catchy songs and loveable characters.

The Newsies musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a New York newsboy who rallies his fellow newsies as they take on Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World. When Pulitzer puts the price of his newspaper bundles up, the young boys rise up against their exploitation, forcing him to back down. It’s a story of love, justice and solidarity that will leave you feeling thrilled and inspired.

To celebrate the arrival of Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in London, here are some interesting things you may not know about it.

Newsies was a film first

Disney’s Newsies was a film before it found success in the theatres. Released in 1992, it starred Christian Bale as Jack Kelly, and was directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega (famous for Hocus Pocus and High School Musical). The movie was a cinematic flop, but gained a cult following in later years.

Newsies has won awards for both best and worst songs

Newsies composer Alan Menken is famous for his work with Disney, and has won multiple awards for his music. He received a Tony Award for Best Original Score for his work on the Newsies Broadway musical, but that was 20 years after he’d won a Razzie for Worst Original Song for ‘High Times, Hard Times’ in the Newsies film.

The Newsies characters are based on real people

Newsies is based on the true story of the 1899 newsboys’ strike, and real-life newsie Kid Blink was the inspiration for the musical’s lead, Jack Kelly. Jack’s right-hand man, Davey, is based on real-life union president David Simmons, while Katherine Plumber is named for Joseph Pulitzer’s daughter.

The Broadway musical featured an original printing press

When Newsies opened on Broadway, it featured an antique Chandler & Price printing press, which was manufactured in the early 1900s and was fully capable of printing. A printing expert was even brought in to train the actors in its intricate operation.

The Newsies actors have a gruelling training schedule

The actors in the Newsies film had two months of intensive training to get them fit and proficient enough for the choreography. Similarly, the London cast has to meet high physical and vocal standards. With ballet, jazz, break dancing and tap styles all part of the production, proficiency in several dance forms - and an ability to perform acrobatics - is necessary.

Michael Ahomka-Lindsay nearly became a doctor

Lead actor Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, who plays Jack Kelly, spent three years studying medicine at Leeds before switching to musical theatre. He describes the decision to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as “a change of mind rather than a change of heart” - and, as his outstanding performance in Newsies shows, it was a gamble that more than paid off.

Don’t miss the chance to see Disney’s Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre this season. Running until April 2023, it’s one of the best shows currently in London. Book your tickets today!