Despite the high prices for tickets to a Broadway show and the hordes of tourists looking to enjoy a little of the magic of the Great White Way, it’s not a guarantee that even a popular production will generate a return on investment. Disney’s been hit and miss on this in the past (misses include Tarzan and The Little Mermaid) but their latest production has been something of a surprise hit (although the shows fans would have said they knew it from the start).
Disney Theatrical Productions just announced that the Broadway production of Newsies has recouped its investment in just over nine months — the fastest a Disney production has ever turned a profit — confirming Newsies’ status as one of the biggest hits of the 2011-12 Broadway season.
In 41 weeks of performances to date, nearly 400,000 people have attended the show at the Nederlander Theatre. The show has set then broken the weekly box office house record six times during its run so far and has regularly been among Broadway’s Top 10 shows.
The show received Tony Awards for Alan Menken and Jack Feldman’s rousing score and for Christopher Gattelli’s athletic choreography. The Broadway cast album recently received a Grammy Award nomination.
Newsies, features music by eight-time Academy Award® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sister Act), lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by four-time Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy). Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, Newsies is directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun (Big River revival) and choreographed by Tony nominee Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific revival).
“We are thrilled that Broadway audiences have embraced the show as they have. It’s a testament to the power of this story of young people uniting to fight for what’s right as captured in the words and music of Harvey, Alan and Jack and brought to glorious life in Jeff’s production and Chris’ choreography,” said Thomas Schumacher, Producer and President Disney Theatrical Productions. “We believed deeply in the show, but a year ago, we really didn’t see this coming so quickly.”
Disney Theatrical Productions originally developed Newsies for licensing in response to consistent and sustained requests from professional and amateur theatre groups, and Paper Mill Playhouse hosted its four-week pilot production in summer 2011. Overwhelming audience response to that production prompted a transfer to Broadway for a limited run. Opening with ticket sales from all 50 states, the limited run proved so successful that it was extended twice, become an open ended production in spring of this year. Another round of critical praise after its Broadway opening and 23 major theatrical award nominations followed.
The Broadway company of Newsies features Corey Cott as Jack Kelly, John Dossett as Joseph Pulitzer, Kara Lindsay as Katherine Plumber, Lavon Fisher-Wilson as Medda Larkin, Ben Fankhauser as Davey, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie, and Nicholas Lampiasi and Jake Lucas alternating the role of Les.
Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right.
Newsies is inspired by the real-life ‘Newsboy Strike of 1899,’ when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers.