Monday, October 5, 2015



At the turn of the twentieth century, it was not uncommon to see a rag-tag gang of boys peddling the news at every corner of cities like New York, scrambling to earn a penny to keep their families from poverty's door. All the way back to colonial times, these energetic and enterprising youth shouted in your face trying to be the first one to thrust a paper in your hand.  In 1899, the newspaper giants like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst decided they could squeeze a little more profit by reducing the pennies the boys earned. No child labor laws protected these kids and their pittance was put in jeopardy.

This true David and Goliath story birthed a new musical "Newsies" with book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, and it has been making its own headlines, winning Tony Awards in 2012 for Best Choreography and Best Original Score.  Hold on to your reading glasses and run as fast as you can to the Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, October 13 through Sunday, October 18 as "Disney's Newsies The Musical" marches into town. 

"Newsies" centers on child labor practices, when the kids united to change the way the big powers compensated them.  In the two weeks the boys refused to sell newspapers, circulation dropped from 360,000 to 125,000 and the kids were victorious in having their voices heard. These boys were often homeless and orphaned.  They were not employees and had no one to protect them but themselves.  They fearlessly took on the giants and won, even though the newspapers wouldn't let them return unsold goods.  Working from early morning often to late in the night, they typically earned 30 cents a day.

Come meet Jack Kelly, an enthusiastic hard working lad, who rallies his gang when he realizes the cost of the papers from the publisher has been raised.  Jack gathers his force to protest and finds unexpected support from a reporter named Katherine.  With the help of Davey who is helping the family when his dad is disabled, the boys are encouraged to "Seize the Day."  The police and strikebreakers try to snuff their spirit but, ultimately, Jack's championing of their cause prevails and Pulitzer backs down on his monetary demands.  Even Governor Theodore Roosevelt rides in to help save the day.

For tickets ($25.00 and up), call the Bushnell, 166 Capital Avenue, Hartford at  860-987-5900or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m.,  Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Join Jack and his pals as they carry the banner of truth, justice and the American way,  hitting the streets of 1899 New York City as pint-sized heroes to battle the giants and win the day.

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