A week or so ago, I read a junior/teen book by Avi called City of Orphans. It is historical fiction and I really enjoyed it. A few weeks before that, the musical Newsies was in town and I never really even thought about going to see it. After reading the book, I wished I had seen it. So, living in the digital world, I popped onto Amazon and had the 1992 version of Newsies delivered in 2 days. I watched it last night and must say I enjoyed it immensely.
City of Orphans takes place in 1893 New York City, historically predating the musical by 7 years. Based on a true story with many of the characters named and modelled after real newsies from the time, Newsies tells the story of how these young people (mostly, but not all boys), barely making a living flogging all the New York newspapers, became outraged when the owner/robber barons led by Wm. Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer raised the cost to newsies 1/10¢ or 10¢ on 100 papers. (The papers sold for 2¢ each and the kids had to buy them first, then resell them; most of what they earned went to buy the next day’s papers.) The newsies decided to start their own union and go on strike. Their decision caused a lot of problems for the owners, and subsequently, a lot of problems for themselves.
The singing and dancing in this musical are really excellent and each character contributed a lot to the fun of the movie and to a better understanding of the times. Christian Bale as Jack Kelly is superb as the organizer with the guts to take on the power brokers, and his pal David (David Moscow), the one with all the words and ideas, feeds him his lines. The strike is a huge success, and there’s even a cameo appearance of Governor Teddy Roosevelt (David James Alexander). Kevin Tighe takes on the role of a heavy playing the warden of a prison for kids called “The Refuge” who is seeking an escaped boy going by the name of Jack Kelly.
I remember seeing trailers for the movie when it first came out and thinking it was going to be violent, but there wasn’t much at all — probably less than in the historical account. The sets were quite well done, the dancing excellent, and the whole movie was just an overall delight! * * * * *