A play about the last days of Judy Garland's life is getting praise from critics and audiences alike. Most notably, the star of "End of the Rainbow" Tracie Bennett is getting rave reviews. I had a chance to talk to Bennett recently about the show and her performance.
The story is ripped from the headlines in our city as it was more than a hundred years ago when Newsies, the boys who hawked papers on the streets, went out on strike after getting squeezed by rich publishers.
"It was a story about kids. A story where the kids took the action," Harvey Fierstein said.
Fierstein wrote the script to the new show, which is based on real events but began life as a movie musical starring a very young Christian Bale as the leader of the Newsies.
In 1992 nobody cared, but now twenty years later this old flop has inspired a new hit on Broadway.
"The movie's so stupid and so it was restructuring it in a way that I could still get away with all these anthemic songs," Fierstein said.
It was Fierstein who came-up with a love story that was not in the original movie.
"The show is all boys. And, it just felt the female voice wasn't heard enough," he said.
Enter Katherine, a reporter ahead of her time and just right for jack, played by the charismatic Jeremy Jordan who sings songs so good that they didn't deserve to be forgotten.
"What Newsies does like nothin' else is to please people and make them happy," Fierstein said.
If Harvey seems happy, that's because he takes great pleasure in making a musical work no matter how unlikely the source material. The cult movie called Hairspray inspired his biggest hit. A flop film inspired his newest one.
"Well, if it's a really great movie, it doesn't need you," he said.
Newsies is from Disney theatricals: owned by the same parent company as WABC-TV. The musical has proved so popular its run as been extended through the summer, and it's a real crowd-pleaser with the crowd giving the company standing ovations during the show.