With all of the energy, dancing, singing and acting one would expect of any Broadway production, Disney’s “Newsies” has hit the road in its first national tour. High-stepping its trek across America, the production has gone beyond the headlines and has done something different which usually doesn’t happen when a show embarks on a road trip. Disney has added a new song to the production much to the delight of “Fansies”, a large group of dedicated fans whose enthusiasm initially helped push the show from screen to stage.
Sometimes when a Broadway show hits the road, producers will tweak the production by cutting out a song or eliminating dialogue to fit the touring schedule but as the curtain went up on the national tour in Philadelphia this week, “Newsies” enthusiasts noticed something different. Disney added a song.
Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman collaborated on “Letter from the Refuge” which Disney Theatrical Productions confirms did not appear in the 1992 musical movie drama or in the recently completed Broadway run. The song comes in the second act as Crutchie (played by Zachary Sayle) writes a letter by candlelight to news boys leader Jack Kelly (played by Dan DeLuca) after Crutchie was carted away to a deplorable detention center where “there are three boys to every bed.”
The genesis for the new song was sparked by Disney Theatrical president and producer Thomas Schumacher who challenged Menken and Feldman to write an additional number for the production. Originally just an exercise to illustrate how new songs can be created and incorporated into musicals, “Letter from the Refuge” stuck and made its way into the young national tour of “Newsies.”
The Broadway musical opened in March 2012 at the Nederlander Theatre where it took its final curtain call on August 24th. The national tour kicked off on October 11th in Schenectady, New York with its official opening October 28th in Philadelphia. Before the curtain falls on the national tour the cast and crew will visit Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other cities.
The Disney musical is based loosely on the New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899 and during its run on the Great White Way broke seven Nederlander Theatre house records and became the highest-grossing show from the 2011-12 Broadway season. The show received 23 major theatrical nominations, including eight Tony Awards nods and taking home Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Score and Choreography.