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Tony Interview Special: Jack Feldman on Getting His NEWSIES Do-Over!

BroadwayWorld was there for this year's official Tony Brunch, and got a chance to chat with this year's nominees!  Today we bring you Jack Feldman, nominee for Best Score for NEWSIES.

Congrats on the nomination! What’s been going through your head since you got the news?

It’s a little hard for me to get my head around, but I feel confident that I will. I’m very excited and incredibly honored. I’m just so thrilled that NEWSIES as a whole got nominated in so many different categories.

How did this whole process start for you?

Well in the years after the movie was released, the show became a cult hit and the songs did too –it was very underground. There were a lot of pirated versions of it being done and there was a lot of demand for it from music licensing organizations- for authorized productions. Disney decided that it was about time to do that.

That was all it was ever supposed to be. We didn’t work any less hard on it because of that, but it was huge fun to get the whole do-over opportunity. I got to fix things that I was sorry I never got the time to fix. The rest of it just kinda snowballed into surprise after surprise after surprise.

The show got a whopping eight nominations! Why do think the response has been so great?

I think there’s definitely a resonance with what’s going on outside the theatre and in the world today. I think that it's the exuberance of the kids (I call them kids) as characters in the show, and the energy, and Chris Gattelli’s choreography, Alan (Menken)’s incredible ability to write a period score that also sounds completely contemporary, and a story with characters that you root for. It has a lot going for it.

Especially in the way it was done this time around with Harvey Fierstein. He figured out so much that we couldn’t. He just said, “Oh, no. This is what you do.” And we said, “Ok, sounds easy.”

Is there a particular song in the show that holds a special place in your heart?

I think my favorite is “King of New York.” It was one of the last songs that we wrote for the movie, and it’s not an anthem, but it’s a real character/story song. It’s fun and the music is so catchy. It was really fun writing the words.

What has been the best part of the whole NEWSIES experience for you?

Definitely the opportunity to revisit it. Also just working with everybody- but specifically the actors that play the NEWSIES themselves. For twelve of them, this is their Broadway debut. So many of them came up to me individually and said that it was because of watching the movie on VHS or DVD that they decided to be performers- with tears in their eyes. They really became a family offstage and consciously or not, I think the audience gets that. When a number gets applause and they have to hold for it to stop, just looking at their faces is so special.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from the Beacon Theatre, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 10, 2012.  Click here for the complete list of nominations! Click here for the nominations by the numbers. 

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

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