Last night I saw Newsies. It was terrible/fabulous! So many young men dancing. Not so many young men acting.
It was another instance of what I have started to call Urban Trail Magic, a practice I have developed over the last month to try to see and appreciate the real joy of happenstance, being alive, living in New York, and those seemingly magical connections that are offered to each of us every day. It’s my own weird and small version of spirituality. Trail Magic comes from long-distance hiking. I first heard about it when a friend hiked the Appalachian Trail, and was recently reintroduced to the concept. I started trying to look for magical signs in my own life. I have received so many over the last few months: jobs, favors, lunches, bank errors in my favor, secret days off, last minute babysitting gigs that allow me pay my rent on time, much needed wisdom from unlikely sources. I have also tried to cultivate the awareness of these gifts and a deep sense of gratitude, though I have not done so perfectly.
So last night, I went to see Newsies expecting to see a semi-ridiculous dance-fest set in olden times, and I did. But this musical is actually about a bunch of kids (newsboys) who go on strike to protest unfair price hikes and exploitation. A couple of times, despite the maudlin script, I was genuinely moved by these young people who were struggling to get by, and who wanted to work, just under better conditions. Of course, now that I have started writing about work, working conditions, and management, I would have to go see a fluffy musical about it!
Obviously, it goes without saying that the history of child labor in this country is much more complex than the plot of Newsies. I am often surprised when I read the guide in my office break-room about how and when minor workers are allowed to labor in this day and age, and I still find it shocking to consider the hours and working conditions imposed on child-workers through the beginning of the 20th century. When I was under-age, I had internships and I did stage manage a couple of shows, but I never held a paid-by-the-hour job. I was lucky, and a little lazy.
But I digress! My review of the musical of Newsies is as follows: I am excited to watch the movie Newsies, starring a young upstart called Christian Bale.