Adapted from the Disney film, New York City's newsboys seize the day when they strike against unfair working conditions.
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Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

Act One

New York City – Summer – 1899. Dawn breaks over the tenement rooftop where Jack Kelly, a brash and charismatic boy of 17, tells his younger pal Crutchie of his desire to journey west to find a better life ("Santa Fe - Prologue"). The church bells signal the beginning of the work day for the newsies of New York. Jack and Crutchie climb down to join the proud and enthusiastic band of newsboys, who are always looking for a prime selling spot and a way to make an old story sound new ("Carrying the Banner"). Wiesel and the tough Delancey brothers open the window of The World to distribute papers to the newsies for fifty cents per hundred. Two new boys appear in line: Davey, 16, and his adorable 10-year-old brother, Les. Sensing an opportunity, Jack suggests a partnership. High above in his imposing office, publisher Joseph Pulitzer complains that circulation and profits are down, meaning fewer people are being influenced by his agenda. He decides to raise the newsies’ price, forcing them to sell more papers to earn a living ("The Bottom Line").

Later that day, Jack takes Davey and Les to a burlesque theater to evade Snyder, a crooked man who runs The Refuge, a juvenile jail from which Jack once escaped on the back of Governor Teddy Roosevelt’s carriage. Jack introduces his partners to the theater’s owner and star, Medda Larkin, who shows off Jack’s impressive scenery painting. The boys then settle in to watch her perform  ("That's Rich").Up in a box during the next number ("Don't Come a-Knocking"), Jack discovers a pretty girl who brushed him off that morning, a reporter who’s reviewing the show for The Sun and has no time for his advances. Taken by her beauty and pluck, he sketches her face on a piece of newsprint ("I Never Planned on You") and then disappears, leaving the drawing behind.

The next morning, the newsies are shocked by the price hike, which William Randolph Hearst has also adopted at The Journal. Barely able to feed themselves and with nowhere to turn, they start to panic. Jack instinctively rebels, refusing to work until the price comes back down. Taking Jack’s lead, the newsies get swept up in the moment, declare themselves a union and decide to strike ("The World Will Know"). Convening in nearby Jacobi’s Deli, the newsies plan to spread the word to the other boroughs, especially Brooklyn, home of Spot Conlon, whose tough reputation is legendary. The girl reporter – byline Katherine Plumber – appears and promises to get their story in The Sun if they give her the scoop. Jack is skeptical, but he doesn’t want to let the girl get away again, so he agrees to help. Alone and nervous in front of her typewriter, Katherine begins to write her story ("Watch What Happens").

Only a few newsies have assembled to strike the next day, and none from the other boroughs. Jack urges Davey to convince the frightened kids not to back down. When scabs arrive to take the newsies’ place, Jack asks them to stand in solidarity with all the city’s working children who are being exploited. The scabs throw down their papes, just in time for Katherine and her photographer to snap a photo ("Seize the Day"). But soon the newsies are surrounded by goons and engage in a fierce fight. When the cops arrive and start beating on the kids, they run. Snyder’s appearance scares Jack away, but not before he sees Snyder take down Crutchie and carry him off to The Refuge. Reaching the temporary safety of his rooftop, Jack paces, guilty about his role in the tragedy and longing for escape ("Santa Fe - Reprise"). 

Act Two

The next morning, the beaten and discouraged newsies are sitting in Jacobi’s deli when Katherine arrives and shows them their photo on the front page of The Sun. Their sudden fame cheers them up and ignites their dreams ("King of New York"). At The Refuge, Crutchie pens a letter to Jack encouraging him and the newsies to stay strong and to protect one another like a family (“Letter from the Refuge”). Backstage at Medda’s theater, Davey, Katherine, and Les find Jack alone and ashamed, painting a backdrop. Despite the newsies’ story “above the fold” and plans for a rally, Jack doubts their prospects until his partners convince him to double-down and see this strike through ("Watch What Happens - Reprise"). 

Discovering the headline “Newsies Stop The World,” a furious Pulitzer seeks to obliterate the root of the defiance. Snyder describes Jack’s criminal past and escape from The Refuge. Just then, a cocky Jack arrives to announce the newsies’ rally. Pulitzer scoffs and assures Jack that no paper will cover it; therefore it won’t exist. He then reveals his daughter, Katherine, who left a life of luxury to write for a rival paper, and Snyder, who emerges from the shadows. Amid Jack’s shock and panic, Pulitzer offers a choice: go to prison or renounce the strike and leave New York with pockets full of cash. The Delanceys escort Jack to the cellar to ponder his decision on an old printing press ("The Bottom Line - Reprise").

That evening, Spot Conlon crosses the bridge with his gang to join newsies from every borough at Medda’s theater for the rally ("Brooklyn's Here"). When Jack appears, they leap to their feet, but their cheers turn to boos as he warns them they are no match for Pulitzer and advises them to go back to work. Jack takes his payoff money at the door and exits quickly. On his rooftop, Jack finds Katherine going through his drawings of The Refuge’s bleak conditions. He snatches them from her and they argue fiercely until she kisses him. Katherine then shares her plan to have the newsies distribute her article, “The Children’s Crusade,” which denounces the exploitation of working kids of the city and calls for a citywide strike. Before heading to an unused press Jack has recently discovered, they share their hope in one another ("Something to Believe In"). Katherine and Jack join the newsies in the cellar of The World and work through the night to print and distribute The Newsies Banner ("Once and For All").

The next morning, Pulitzer’s office is flooded with angry calls from every corner of the city, which has been effectively shut down by its children. Jack, Davey and Spot barge in and return Pulitzer’s blackmail money ("Seize the Day - Reprise"). Pulitzer refuses to back down until Governor Roosevelt appears with Katherine and Jack’s drawings of The Refuge. His leverage quickly eroding, Pulitzer compromises by agreeing to buy back unsold papers. Outside, Jack announces the end of the strike. Crutchie appears amid the jubilation, followed by a handcuffed Snyder, who is led off to jail. Despite his dreams for Santa Fe, Jack realizes that the newsies are his family and Katherine gives him something to believe in – so he’s staying put for now (“Finale”).



Cast Size: Large 21 And Up
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Heavy

Character Breakdown

Jack Kelly

The charismatic leader of the Manhattan newsies, is an oprhaned dreamer and artist who yearns to get out of the crowded streets of New York and make a better life for himself out West. Fiercely protective of his best friend, Crutchie, and strongly loyal, Jack isn’t afraid to use his voice to attain better conditions for the working kids of New York City. Though living on the streets has given him a tough-guy exterior, Jack has a big heart and can demonstrate a sweet vulnerability – especially when it comes to bantering with a certain female reporter. Must have a great pop tenor voice and sense of physicality.

Gender: male
Age: 16 to 20
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2

A dedicated newsie with a bum leg that’s painful, but helps sell more papes. Though he walks with the assistance of a crutch, Crutchie doesn’t let it define him; when in a jam, Jack Kelly’s best friend relies on a goofy- sweet sense of humor and optimistic resilience. Crutchie is the heart of the resistance. Though his movement will suggest his bum leg, Crutchie should still be included in the dance numbers.

Gender: both
Age: 13 to 17
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3

Les’s straight-laced, bright big brother starts selling newspapers to help his family earn a living, but becomes swept up in the fervor of the strike. A leader in his own right who is learning to use his voice to uplift others, Davey is the brains of the resistance.

Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: D3

Davey’s cheeky younger brother, is inspired by the freedom of the newsies and loves their independent lifestyle. A precocious and natural newsie, Les is an intuitive salesboy and a pint-sized charmer. He should present as younger than the other newsies.

Gender: male
Age: 10 to 15
Vocal range top: Bb3
Vocal range bottom: Db3

Including Albert, Buttons, Elmer, Finch, Henry, Ike, Jo Jo, Mike, Mush, Race, Romeo, Specs, Splasher, and Tommy Boy, are some of the hard-working kids of New York City that go on strike for a livable wage. 

Gender: male
Age: 13 to 20

Three newsies who are hesitant to join the strike.

Gender: both
Age: 10 to 20
Spot Conlon

The proud leader of the Brooklyn newsies, boasts an intimidating reputation and a short singing solo in “Brooklyn’s Here.”

Gender: both
Age: 17 to 20
Katherine Plumber

An ambitious young reporter, works hard to make a name for herself as a legitimate journalist in a time when women aren’t taken seriously. Quick, funny, and resourcesful, she boldy captures the voice of a new generation rising in her coverage of the newsies’ strike. While she generally has no time for cocky, streetwise young men, she makes an exception for Jack Kelly. Though she only has a brief dance solo in “King of New York,” Katherine should have a great contemporary pop voice with a high belt – diction is key.

Gender: female
Age: 17 to 20
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3

The upper-class kid of a publisher who sides with the newsies. Can double as a newsie. 

Gender: both
Age: 15 to 20

The son of William Randolph Hearst who joins the newsies' cause. Can double as a newsie. 

Gender: male
Age: 15 to 25

Or “Weasel,” runs the distribution window for the World and knows most of the newsies by name. Assisted by the intimidating Delancey brothers, who keep order by any means necessary, Wiesel is Pulitzer’s disgruntled paper- pusher.

Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Oscar and Morris Delancey

Tough brothers who work at the distribution window for the World, take the side of the publishers in the strike and are known to use their fists to make a point.

Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20

Assist the Delanceys in roughing up the newsies at the end of Act One.

Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20
Joseph Pulitzer

A pompous businessman through and through, owns the World and is concerned solely with the bottom line. Katherine’s no-nonsense father, Pulitzer doesn’t sympathize with the strikers, but he does eventually – and grudgingly – respect Jack.

Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: C3

Editor, advises Pulitzer, but ultimately admires the kids’ newspaper.

Gender: both

Pulitzer’s bookkeeper, comes up with the ideas to raise the newsies’ price per paper.

Gender: both
Age: 35 to 50

Pulitzer’s practical and insightful secretary.

Gender: female
Age: 20 to 40

Pulitzer’s barber.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 50

The Guard removes the newsies from Pulitzer’s building.

Gender: both
Age: 20 to 60

The crooked and sinister warden of The Refuge, a filthy and horrible orphanage, is concerned only with catching enough kids to keep his government checks coming.

Gender: both
Age: 45 to 65
Medda Larkin

Inspired by vaudeville performer Aida Overton Walker, this big-voiced saloon singer and star of the Bowery offers her theater as a safe haven for the newsies. An astute entertainer with great comic delivery, she’s a good friend to Jack and stands firmly behind the newsies in their fight for justice.

Gender: female
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
The Bowery Beauties

Female performers at Medda’s Theater.

Gender: female
Age: 18 to 30
Stage Manager

Introduces Medda's act. 

Gender: both
Age: 25 to 55

The three nuns offer breakfast to the hungry newsies. Feel free to cast additional nuns.

Gender: female
Age: 20 to 60

Takes the triumphant photo of the newsies at the end of “Seize the Day.”

Gender: both
Age: 15 to 25

A newspaper customer. 

Gender: both
Age: 15 to 45
Mr. Jacobi

Allows the newsies to congregate in his restaurant to plan their strike – when he doesn’t have any paying customers, that is.

Gender: both
Age: 35 to 55

Assist Snyder and turn against the newsies in the fight that concludes Act One.

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 60

The Mayor of New York City rebuffs Pulitzer’s attempts to shut down the newsies’ strike.

Gender: male
Age: 45 to 60
Governor Teddy Roosevelt

A well-respected lifelong public servant, inspires Jack to stand up to Pulitzer.

Gender: male
Age: 50 to 65

In the original Broadway production, the adult (non-newsie) ensemble comprised eight actors who doubled and understudied as indicated below. All other featured roles and understudies were cast from the ensemble of newsies. Feel free to follow these tracks or expand as your resources allow.

FEMALE ENSEMBLE 1 - Nun / Hannah / Bowery Beauty / Katherine understudy
FEMALE ENSEMBLE 2 - Nun / Woman / Bowery Beauty / Medda understudy
FEMALE ENSEMBLE 3 - Nun / Medda Larkin
MALE ENSEMBLE 1 - Wiesel / Stage Manager / Mr. Jacobi / Mayor / Pulitzer understudy
MALE ENSEMBLE 2 - Seitz / Roosevelt understudy
MALE ENSEMBLE 3 - Bunsen / Male Ensemble 1 understudy
MALE ENSEMBLE 4 - Nunzio / Guard / Policeman / Roosevelt
MALE ENSEMBLE 5 - Snyder / Pulitzer understudy

Gender: both
Full Song List
Newsies: Overture
Newsies: Santa Fe - Prologue
Newsies: Carrying the Banner
Newsies: The Bottom Line
Newsies: That's Rich
Newsies: I Never Planned On You / Don't Come a-Knocking
Newsies: The World Will Know
Newsies: Watch What Happens
Newsies: Seize the Day
Newsies: Santa Fe - Reprise
Newsies: King of New York
Newsies: Letter from the Refuge
Newsies: Watch What Happens - Reprise
Newsies: The Bottom Line - Reprise
Newsies: Brooklyn's Here
Newsies: Something to Believe In
Newsies: Once and for All
Newsies: Finale

Show History


On July 20, 1899, the newsboys of New York City refused to sell Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal to protest the higher prices they were charged for newspapers. Their strike, which lasted nearly two weeks before it was resolved through a historic compromise, was a harbinger for child labor reforms in the 20th century.

To pay tribute to the newsboys’ story, The Walt Disney Company premiered Newsies on April 10, 1992. The live-action musical feature was written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, and directed by Kenny Ortega, with songs by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman. After receiving generally poor reviews, the movie quickly disappeared from theaters.

On October 14, 1992, Disney released Newsies on VHS and Beta home video. The movie premiered on the Disney Channel as part of a “Free Spring Preview” on March 28, 1993. In the following years, home viewing and the advent of the Internet spawned a passionate fan base.


Due to overwhelming requests to license a live-stage version of Newsies, Disney Theatrical Productions put the title into development. Harvey Fierstein joined the project as book writer in 2009, and Menken and Feldman complemented their original film score with several new songs. Developmental readings took place in New York City in 2010.

On September 25, 2011, a test production of Newsies: The Musical opened at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey; it was directed by Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. Positive critical and “Fansie” responses opened unexpected doors.

Newsies began previews of a limited Broadway run at the Nederlander Theatre on March 15, 2012, and opened on March 29. After the show sold out its initial 12 weeks and a 10-week extension, Disney announced an open-ended run on May 16, 2012. The musical earned eight 2012 Tony Award® nominations and won for Best Original Score and Best Choreography.

Newsies ran for 1,004 performances on Broadway, playing to over 1.2 million audience members before closing on August 24, 2014. Preparations began immediately for a North American tour, which opened in Schenectady, New York on October 11, 2014. The tour played over 784 performances to over 1.5 million audience members before closing on October 2, 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Critical Reaction

"Like the publishers of successful tabloids throughout history, the team behind Newsies knows exactly what it's selling. And it presents the full range of its merchandise early and brazenly [...] keep coming at us in full-speed-ahead phalanxes, fortified by every step in a Broadway-by-the-numbers dance book." - The New York Times

"Stop the presses! Disney has produced a winning, high-energy musical for family audiences that doesn't include a single flying witch, talking animal, or dancing teacup." - Entertainment Weekly

"A cheerfully old-fashioned mix of a stirring story with a catchy score." -

"Rousing songs by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, high-energy dance numbers, an appealing cast and an uplifting story make this reconceived version one of Disney Theatrical's most entertaining new properties in years [...] Newsies adheres to a time-honored Disney tradition of inspirational storytelling in the best possible sense." - Hollywood Reporter

"[A] barnstorming, four-alarm delight. [...] Not since Wicked has there been a big-tent, family-friendly Broadway musical that gets so much so right. [...] The Alan Menken - Jack Feldman score pleasingly blends music-hall orchestral swing and power pop, and Feldman's lyrics are more graceful than you'd expect from a show aimed primarily at tweens. Harvey Fierstein's book brims with sass and big-hearted sympathy for the underdog. [...] Old-fashioned book musicals with pluck, brains and heart are so rare these days; when you see one as blissfully fun as Newsies, it belongs on the front page in 72-point type." - TimeOut New York

"Newsies delivers with wit and heart, stick-in-your-head melodies and dazzlingly athletic choreography." - USA Today

"There are lots of musicals that inspire and stimulate. Only one makes you want to rush outside to buy a newspaper, join a union and hug someone from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [...] Fierstein has nicely built into the plucky David-versus-Goliath story a romance - something the film didn't really have - between Jack, the leader of the strikers, and Katherine, a reporter with a hidden past who is desperate to leave fluffy features and cover hard news." - The Huffington Post

"Sparked by a star-making performance from Jeremy Jordan, a tunefully friendly score from Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and high-leaping choreography by Christopher Gattelli, Newsies is Disney's happiest outing since The Lion King. [...] Librettist Harvey Fierstein, too, has punched up his joke book, providing a breezy if simplistic framework." - Variety

Tony® Award

2012 - Best Actor in a Musical, Nominee (Jeremy Jordan)
2012 - Best Musical, Nominee (Newsies)
2012 - Book Of A Musical, Nominee (Harvey Fierstein)
2012 - Choreography, Winner (Christopher Gattelli)
2012 - Direction Of A Musical, Nominee (Jeff Calhoun)
2012 - Orchestrations, Nominee (Daniel Troob)
2012 - Original Score, Winner (Jack Feldman, Alan Menken)
2012 - Scenic Design of a Musical, Nominee (Sven Ortel, Tobin Ost)



Based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White.


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Dance Arrangements by Mark Hummel
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