The national tour of Disney’s Newsies opened last night at Washington, D.C.’s The National Theater and with stops coming to Boston, Toronto, Madison, and more throughout 2015 (full tour schedule can be found here), Newsies is the perfect way to introduce elementary ages to Broadway musicals and longer theater performances. The high-energy performance tells the story of the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899 through musical numbers with incredible choreography that will captivate even the youngest in attendance through an inspirational story that demonstrates the importance of kids standing strong together to fight for what they believe in.
While Emily (age 11 1/2) and her brother (almost 9) were captivated by the two and a half hour performance, it’s always a good idea to provide some background knowledge before you go.
7 Things to Do to Prepare Your Kids for Seeing Newsies
1. Discuss the real-life events that inspired Newsies
Kids looking forward to the musical should know that the strike was led by a charismatic young newsboy Kid Blink, who rallied orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers. After the show, you can discuss how Pulitzer conceded to the deal in the musical and not only did it help the boys, but it began the child labor movement.
2. Have a quick vocabulary lesson to introduce kids to the terms they’ll hear in the musical
Unions, nom de plume, and the orphan refuge might be worth mentioning before you go, especially for younger theater goers who might not be so familiar with such vocabulary words.
3. Talk about proper theater behavior
From start to finish, the performance is approximately two and a half hours (the first act is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes with a 15 intermission before the hour-long second act) which can be a long time to sit. Before you go, talk about how to be a good audience member including using a whisper during the performance, being still to not disturb others around you, silencing your cell phone and not using it during the performance. There are no photos allowed once you are inside The National Theater. Also review the program when you take your seats to give kids a sense of when they can expect a 15 minute intermission.
4. Attend Get up and Go at the Newseum on Friday, June 12
Those in the DC Metro Area are invited to come to the Get Up and Go workshop at the Newseum this Friday at 11:30 am where 4 cast members will be promoting fun ways that kids (and adults) can lead healthier lifestyles through the arts. There will be a discussion of healthy food choices and teach actual dance sequences inspired by the show’s Tony Award®-winning choreography and music. The program supports NEWSIES’ theme that by working together, change is possible.
5. Explore the Newsies website
Fansies (Newsies fans)and those new to Newsies will enjoy reading cast bios, taking a look at photos from the Newsies social media accounts that provides a peek at what the set looks like. Become a Fansie by following Newsies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
6. Watch the movie
Fansies who are familiar with the screenplay will find differences between it and the Broadway production, making it a well worth the ticket price to attend. Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman wrote six entirely new numbers for the stage, while keeping many of the beloved songs from the film. New songs include: The Bottom Line, That’s Rich, Don’t Come A-Knocking, Brooklyn’s Here, and Something to Believe In.
7. Watch the videos on the Newsies YouTube playlist
The 10 videos on the playlist include performances of songs like King of New York, Get Up and Go, and The World Will Know along with appearances on shows like Dancing with the Stars, The View, and in the Disney Parks Christmas Parade.
3 Things to Do After Seeing Newsies
1. Read Children of the City
The book by David Nasaw inspired the movie and later the Broadway production.
2. Explore the different parts of the newspaper, including the political cartoons.
3. Look for other family friendly shows coming to your area
We’re fortunate to have so many theaters featuring productions that are geared towards different ages at incredible venues like The National Theater, The Kennedy Center, and The Warner Theater as well as smaller stages to acquaint kids with theater experiences. I’m especially excited about Broadway at the National. Last night I picked up a brochure detailing National Theater’s 2015-16 season where there will be premieres of Motown The Musical, the Tony® Award-winning Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. All would be great to see and if we make the investment as subscribers (subscription packages start at $140) to commit to seeing the shows, we can also see Jersey Boys and Annie, a favorite that Emily and I saw in New York City on Broadway a couple years ago. Locals can visit www.thenationaldc.com or call subscription hotline at (855) 486-2516 to subscribe to season tickets.
Newsies is in Washington, D.C. until June 21 and dates and times of performances can be found here. To see if Newsies is coming to a city near you, visit the Newsies website for upcoming tour dates and locations.
Our family received complimentary tickets to attend Newsies but all opinions are my own with feedback from my young theater-goers! Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.