Film Music

Breaking Newsies

My betrothed and I caught the penultimate performance of Newsies: The Musical in Chicago on Saturday night. We’d been watching prices on StubHub for a while and finally jumped on them Saturday morning for the 8 PM showing. So glad it worked out because I’ve been excited to see it since its announcement years ago.

I went with “Breaking Newsies” because of the pun, obviously, but also because to make this show they had to break the original Newsies movie and rebuild it into something way better. I’m not exactly sure why I so love the original movie, which is—let’s be honest—a mediocre camp-fest meant primarily for kids, a la High School Musical (which is fitting given the two movies share a director.) But I watched it in high school with some friends who were strangely enthusiastic about it and found myself enjoying the music, which isn’t surprising given that it was wrought by Disney musical maven Alan Menken. “Seize the Day” is my go-to pump-up song, and what I listen to on repeat when I’m having a good day and want to keep it good.

Christian Bale famously disdains the 1992 movie he helmed, which makes no sense. If you turn off your left brain and remember its audience, the movie is quite fun, though about halfway through it dips considerably in quality. Once the strike is on and the “Seize the Day” a cappella chorale passes, it loses charm for the sake of plot and message—and who wants that in a silly musical made for kids?

This was what I worried most about in the musical. How would they fix the movie’s terrible excuse for a love story, honor the politics, and raise the stakes for everyone? No spoilers here, but I thought the adjustments they made to characters and motivations were savvy and ameliorative. The new songs, too, were welcome additions to the Newsies cult canon. They ditched weak songs (peace out “High Times, Hard Times”) and moved some existing songs around, but in a way that tightened the story and made it more cohesive.

What else should I have expected from a Tony Award-winning Broadway show based on a Disney property? The dancing was top-notch and remains my favorite element of stage shows in general. I’m always impressed by what these performers can do so well and so seemingly easily. We saw the penultimate performance in the Chicago run and yet the energy level seemed just as high as an opening night. I greatly admire what these professionals can do. I only wish from our nosebleed seats we could have seen the performances up closer.

Books Teach Me How to Dewey Writing

DDC 070-079: Carryin’ the banner

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

The Rundown:

  • 070 Journalism, and newspapers
  • 071 Newspapers in North America
  • 072 Newspapers in British Isles; in England
  • 073 Newspapers in central Europe; in Germany
  • 074 Newspapers in France & Monaco
  • 075 Newspapers in Italy & adjacent islands
  • 076 Newspapers in Iberian Peninsula & adjacent islands
  • 077 Newspapers in eastern Europe; in Russia
  • 078 Newspapers in Scandinavia
  • 079 Newspapers in other geographic areas

Extra! Extra! Get your papes heeya, Jack Kelly. We continue along the general theme of writing, books, and cultural institutions with The Newspaper in all its storied, soon-to-be-antiquated glory. While I was disappointed not to find a comprehensive history of that classic 1992 Disney musical/bad-accent-party Newsies, I found a lot of books on journalism or by journalists, along with (diving back into meta-ness) a lot on writing and publishing and the challenges therein, which actually seem to be good resources for aspiring authors. Once again, the books in my library were limited almost exclusively to two digits (070 and 071); apparently Scandinavian newspapers don’t fit within the the collection purview of a Midwestern public library.

As a writer myself, I struggle with how much writing about writing I should read. On the one hand it’s helpful to learn how other seemingly successful writers struggle through the quotidian difficulties of the writing life. On the other hand, it’s easy to get bogged down in reading about writing and not actually get your own writing done. It’s the same thing with the modern trends of “lifehacking” and productivity: so many new apps and web tools make promises of increased productivity and streamlined life, but when I focus so much on the tools themselves I get fixated on the tool instead of the product it’s supposed to help create.

Or maybe I’m overthinking it.

The Dew3:

What Kind of Loser Indie Publishers? And How Can I Be One, Too?
By Pamela Fagan
Dewey: 070.593 HUT
Random Sentence: “Did you just throw up a little in your mouth?”

Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life
By Michael Greenberg
Dewey: 070.92 GRE
Random Sentence: “Purged of empathy, I joined in the protective cynicism of the courthouse employees.”

Red Blood & Black Ink: Journalism in the Old West
By David Dary
Dewey: 071 DAR
Random Sentence: “That’s just the way with juries – they think it no more wrong to shoot an editor than a Jack-rabbit.”