A couple of big reviews are in for Newsies The Musical, the Broadway edition. While the crowds may be entertained by the dancing, often to the point of giving multiple standing ovations each night, the critics have less kind about the finer points of the story going as far to call it a collection of tropes from previous musicals.
I’m not sure that’s fair, but it’s a complaint I’ve seen leveled at a lot of musicals recently, so I’m not sure it’s a complaint about Newsies, so much as it is about a general lack of originality on Broadway at the moment.
Ben Brantley in the NY Times says:
Though there is little originality in these dance numbers, they have enough raw vitality to command the attention and even stir the blood. Or they would if they knew when to quit. But just when you think a number is over, it starts up again, and no sooner are you recovering from that one, then there’s another one, with all the same darn back flips, pirouettes, etc. I commend the cast members for always appearing to be excited by what they’re doing. Unfortunately, that is not the same as being exciting.
Jeremy Gerard at Bloomberg can only bring himself to say this (my paragraphing):
“Newsies” gets syrupy faster than I hoped for and while never less than assured, its efforts to earn applause can come mighty close to pandering. Fierstein is a sentimentalist at heart, and the hokiness gets free reign. The songs feel stamped from molds, the music predictable and the words banal.
The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, has more praise for Disney’s ability to tap into current trends with an old property:
If this sounds like a rose-colored Occupy Wall Street fantasy, it more or less is, which is no small irony coming from the biggest corporate presence on Broadway. However, Fierstein’s straightforward book is concerned less with tapping into today’s debate about income inequality and worker injustice than with joining the dots of a classic boy-meets-girl-and-tackles-titan tale. Chief among many improvements on the movie is its strengthening of the love story.
Critics do what they are paid to do, critique. You can choose to take it or leave it. Either way, the audience doesn’t mind as the initial run out performed expectations and Disney has added more shows that are already filling up way ahead of time. There’s something to be said about being the hottest ticket on the great white way.