When it opened on March 29, 2012 NEWSIES was intended for a Broadway run of just 101 performances. Fans of the show had other plans in mind, however. Their devotion propelled the show to a 1005-performance run and attendance of more than 1 million and a gross of more than $100 million. And now, it’s coming to Austin.
This time around, the show is coming through Texas with some new bells and whistles and a vibrant cast to match. Fans of the film and Texans who were lucky enough to see the original are in for some surprises with this well-crafted rendition.
“The Broadway production added six songs and changed a lot of the characters,” Stephen Michael Langton, who plays Davey, explained. “My character’s very different than the one in the movie — he’s a much bigger part as the role of Davey and his little brother Les are much bigger in the actual storyline as well as cutting off certain characters such as Bill Pullman’s reporter character who was replaced by another reporter, a younger female reporter named Katherine who becomes the love interest for Jack Kelly.”
Since the 2012 run, things have become a bit more refined — more crafted. The cast may look like a scrappy ragtag bunch of guys, but now most of them are trained in things like ballet and gymnastics, so the spectacle is much greater than what’s been seen before.
“Yeah, I started dancing but my character doesn’t dance so much in the show. I do get to tap dance, which is my favorite, but I don’t do so much of the dancing in the show,” Langton said. “I started dancing before I did any theatre or any anything like that, and that’s sort of a similar story for most of the guys in the cast they all come from a crazy pedigree of dance background.”
While some people would be intimidated by the task of bringing forth a classic that may not be what precisely what fans want, Langton is confident in the work they’ve done and has the audiences to back it up. His best advice is for fans to come with an open mind.
“There are some die hard movie fans who see the show and wish it was the movie but we’ve pulled much bigger audiences with this and I think the reason is it has all the same appeal,” he said with a confident laugh. “If you come ready for a different experience than the movie and think of it being based on the movie as opposed to being your favorite movie on stage, if you come with an open mind you’ll have new songs to sing and new choreography to watch and new characters to love, if you don’t like the show then you’re just stubborn.”
For Langton, Newsies is a story of triumph in his own person underdog story. Getting his start in a small community theatre, this tour has been building up to one special performance.
“It’s crazy, when I was in school everyone I knew who was a guy was trying to be in Newsies. Like everyone in New York, because I lived in New York, auditioned for it. I auditioned for it off Broadway, on Broadway for the tour, I auditioned for years,” he exclaimed. “Then finally getting it was a dream come true. Now I get to close in Texas which is where I’m from actually. I grew up outside of Fort Worth in Keller, Texas. This will be my first return to Texas as a professional actor and it actually happens to be our closing city. I got a whole bunch of family and friends coming from Dallas and Houston. I used to work out in Fort Worth for years in a tiny little community theater, that’s where I got my training before I moved to New York, I’m excited to debut what I learned in school for my family and friends and the Great State of Texas. I’m very excited we’re closing in Texas, it’s a good homecoming. Very cinematic, it fits into the screenplay of my life and I’m proud to bring the show home.”
Newsies will be heading to Austin with the first curtain call on September 27, and running through October 2 at the Bass Concert Hall by way of Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts. Tickets are on sale now.