They seized the day. They were the kings of New York. They were... a complete and utter box office bomb. They were the (shockingly eclectic) cast and creators of Newsies, the 1992 Disney attempt to revive the live-action musical.
And while initial reviews had studio execs trying to bury the lead, (32% on Rotten Tomatoes!) this Kenny Ortega-directed reinterpretation of the newsboy strike of 1899 somehow found a cult following and more than recouped its production costs (eventually.) Now, 'Newsies' is back with a brand-new Broadway musical opening on March 15th.
For a certain segment of fans, this tale of a rag-tag group of rascally dancing orphans, newspaper moguls (and Ann-Margret?!) is a bold-print must-see. What has this gang of industrious gents (and lady) been up to in the subsequent decades? Extra, Extra! We have the latest headlines on all of your favorite Newsies.
Christian Bale (Jack %22Cowboy%22 Kelly)
Then: A young Christian Bale broke hearts as the street-wise orphan with a soft spot for New Mexico. 'Newsies' was one of Bale's most high-profile early roles, following his breakthrough performance in Steven Spielberg's 'Empire of the Sun.' Now: When he’s not winning an Oscar for "The Fighter," playing the Caped Crusader or having an epic on-set meltdown, Christian Bale has become one of Hollywood’s hottest commodities. Bale, who signed on to 'Newsies' before the musical numbers were added in, was never a huge fan of the movie, which stymied his big screen career once it tanked. As he told EW in 2007, "At 17, you want to be taken very seriously — you don't want to be doing a musical...Time healed those wounds. But it took a while.'' We love your dramatic work, CB, but we wish you'd sing and dance again!
David Moscow (David Jacobs)
Then:Known for playing the kid who turns into Tom Hanks in 'Big,' Moscow played the big bro everyone wishes they had in the late 1800s. Now: Moscow still turns up on TV series such as 'Zoe' and 'Numb3rs,' and has appeared in films such as 'Riding In Cars With Boys' and 'Honey.' Moscow was engaged to actress Kerry Washington from 2004 to 2007, but the two have since parted ways. Recently he's been involved in developing sustainable economic housing in NYC's Harlem neighborhood.
Luke Edwards (Les Jacobs)
Then: Prior to 'Newsies,' Luke played a Nintendo wiz in the classic Fred Savage vehicle 'The Wizard.' He was equally adorable as an impressionable newsie-in-training. Now: Following 'Newsies,' Luke continued to score roles in kid-friendly projects like 'Little Big League.' Still a working actor today, Luke has made numerous guest-starring appearances on TV shows such as MTV's 'Undressed.' You can also see him in the upcoming 'Jeepers Creepers 3,' as well as the sequel to 'The Wizard' we've written in our mind. Call us, Luke!
Max Casella (Racetrack Higgins)
Then: Playing a cigar-puffing, pony-playing tough-guy came naturally for the Brooklyn-born Casella, best known as Doogie Howser's pal Vinnie Delpino. Now: Casella has parlayed his early wise guy success into playing actual wise guys on the small screen. You might recognize him for his roles as Benny Fazio on 'The Sopranos' and Leo D'Alessio on 'Boardwalk Empire.') He also has some serious stage cred, originating the role of sassy meerkat Timon in the Broadway production of 'The Lion King.' He can thank 'Newsies' for showing off his musical theater chops.
Marty Belafsky (Crutchy)
Then: Marty played everyone’s favorite old-timey kid with crutches. (Well, after Tiny Tim.) Now: Belafsky took time away from the spotlight to attend Brown University in the early 90s. He then returned to Hollywood with a focus on stand-up comedy, and became a protégé of late comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield. Belafsky has since appeared in numerous films, TV series and commercials, and continues to perform his stand-up act nationally. You can read all about his adventures as a child star on his personal website.
Robert Duvall (Joseph Pulitzer)
Then: Veteran actor Robert Duvall played grizzled newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer. Now: Academy Award-winner (and six-time nominee!) Robert Duvall is a cinematic icon. He has appeared in everything from 'To Kill A Mockingbird' to, uh, 'Four Christmases.' We aren’t exactly sure HOW he ended up in "Newsies," which he scored a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Ann-Margret (Medda Larkson)
Then: "Coochie-coo"-ing her way across the stage as 'Newsies' Vaudeville star Medda Larkson, 'Bye Bye Birdie' hottie Ann-Margret brought some musical theater cred to the film. Now: Nominated for two Academy Awards during her illustrious career, Ann-Margret has continued to work steadily in recent years, appearing on TV shows such as 'Law & Order: SVU' and 'CSI' and feature films like 'The Break-Up' and 'Lucky.'
Bill Pullman (Brian Denton)
Then: Nice guy actor Bill Pullman played nice guy/reporter Bryan Denton. Now: Ladies and Gentleman, The President of the United States! Ok, so he only PLAYED the President in 1996’s 'Independence Day,' but we’d vote for Pullman-in-Chief any day. In addition to a successful and diverse acting career ('Spaceballs,' 'Sleepless In Seattle') B-Pull also holds a PHD in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is a father of three and is a member of environmental group Concerned Citizens of Montana. No word yet on his plans to run for the office of "Mr. Awesome" in 2012, but we’ll keep you posted. And, no, he wasn't on 'Big Love.' That's Bill Paxton.
Kenny Ortega (Director/Choreographer)
Then: After cutting his teeth on music videos for Michael Jackson and Billy Squier (he directed the notorious 'Rock Me Tonite' clip), Ortega made his big screen debut choreographing dance sequences for boys in short pants. Now: Though the three-time Emmy-winning director/producer/choreographer got off to a bit of a rocky start with "Newsies," (he was nominated for a Razzie) Ortega has gone on to choreograph the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics and direct episodes of numerous TV series. In recent years, his career got a major boost from the 'High School Musical' franchise and his work on the ill-fated Michael Jackson comeback tour and subsequent documentary 'This Is It.' Keep on seizing the day, Ken!
'Newsies, The Musical!'
Then: A box office flop that slowly gained a cult following.Now: In a surprise twist fit for a Hollywood underdog story, Disney decided to adapt "Newsies" into a stage musical featuring a fleshed-out story by Harvey Fierstein as well as new songs by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman. The show premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 2011 to warm critical reviews. The production is set to mount a limited Broadway run with the possibility of extension in 2012. Watch a preview of the new show below.