A Look at Disney Return To Theater: A Look at Katherine Plumber



Hello & welcome back to A Look at Disney and today, we continue our Return To The Theater.  Originally, I was going to examine why Newsies works better onstage but there was really only one thing that kept coming to me and I decided to look at that instead.  Perhaps, the weakest aspect of the original movie version of Newsies is that of the love interest, Sarah.  Back, when I reviewed the movie, I had this to say about the character of Sarah.

Sarah, the older sister of Jacob and Les really doesn’t add much to this film and to me she is the most forgettable character in the entire film. Seriously, she added nothing of value to the film and while I get that she was supposed to be the love interest for Jack, the film spent so little time developing that, to the point where they got together at the had had me scratching my head. Honestly, the one thing that sticks out the most for me is sadly when she is being attack by the Newsies’ enemies, the DeLancey Brothers who are Scabbers that happen to look down on the Newsies. That is rather sad and I’ve heard that in the stage production, her character has been cut and honestly I think that can only improve the story.

The biggest takeaway is that getting rid of Sarah’s character did improve the story as they replaced her with a more interesting love interest as they combined the role of love interest with that of the news reporter, which sadly means that one of my favorite characters from the movie, Bryan Denton was also cut but I am more than okay with that as the character that they added to the stage production is  a good character on her own as we get Katherine Plumber.    Mrs. Plumber, originally played Kara Lindsay on Broadway, who I had the good fortune of seeing in this role is a strong character because of little details that they pepper into the musical.  We’ve already observed one aspect as her song, Watch What Happens was on my list of Top 6 Disney Broadway Songs.

As much as I liked Denton,  there is something fascinating about a young woman covering the Newsboy strike in 1899 than a man.   Granted, this may not be historically accurate to the events that Newsies is based on but I think some liberties are allowed to be taken, when trying to tell an engaging story.  And I am not one to say that automatically putting a woman in anything makes it good but having the love interest in the stage production be a female news reporter puts a new spin on this story that gives the character of Katherine a more vital role in the strike than that of what Sarah ever contributed to the strike in the movie.

And that in turn, gives you more reason to be invested in the character of Katherine as you want to see her succeed and accomplish her goal, in a time, when women in print was something of a rarity and seeing her take this risk  is one that she and the audience knows is a huge gamble but that’s all the more reason that you want to see it pulled off.   And speaking of this, you see how the Newsies look to her as a leader and someone that’ll help them with the strike and they know that she is on their side.  As we hear in the stage version of King of New York.

Okay,  how about the fact that she is presented as the daughter of Joseph Pulitzer in the stage production.  Something, which again  is heavily fictionalized when compared to that of the real life Pulitzer but I go back to artistic liberties.  And this put in there as a means of conflict for our hero, Jack as Pulitzer raising the price on how much the newsboys have to pay for the papes is why the strike even occurs.  Admittedly, it’s a small bit of conflict but it is conflict and I once again think that this was an interesting idea and it also gives Katherine some more weight as she is going against our father (who also comes out looking better in the stage version than that of the movie).

Next, how are her interactions with Jack, our lead.  I love them.  Let’s go back to what I said in the very first Screen To Stage.

With Jack and Katherine, there is development. Jack actually has to win he over. THANK YOU! There was chemistry there.

This is so true as Jack and Katherine are actually given a meet cute and you see over the course of the stage production, how Jack has to win Katherine over and by the end, you actually buy into the relationship that has  blossomed between the two.  You can hear the chemistry between the two in their love song and one of my favorite Disney love songs,  Something To Believe In.
It is clear in this song, how much Jack and Kelly care for one another and this song makes them one of my favorite Disney couples as you truly feel the love between the two of them.
Katherine Plumber is the strongest improvement that Newsies made, when it was adapted to the stage and I always feel that if Disney remakes Newsies (they’re remaking everything else), they should use Katherine as the love interest.   For those of you,  that didn’t get the chance to see Newsies onstage, I highly suggest that you check Fathom as they are releasing a special filmed taping of the musical that reunites the original cast including Ms. Lindsay as Katherine Plumber, next month.   I believe, it will only be in theaters on the 16th though but if you can make it, it is worth it.  Join me next time as we continue our Return To The Theater with the Screen To Stage as I look at…
Mary Poppins



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