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Disney’s ‘Newsies’ set for London: An Interview with Director Matt Cole

Roar writer Mia Williams interviews Matt Cole, the Olivier nominated choreographer and director bringing the hit musical “Newsies” to London this November. 

The multi-award-winning musical “Newsies” is coming to the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on November 28, 2022. The Disney production ran on Broadway for two years and is now coming to London for a “new immersive production.”

“Newsies” tells the true story of the 1899 Newspaper boy strike in New York City. Two of the main newspaper distributors raised their prices for the newsies, meaning that they had to sell 25 more papers to make the same amount that they would have previously. The exploited young boys decided to go on strike and, after a long journey and passionate fight for justice, they succeeded in their mission. 

After soaring reviews on Broadway, it has been announced that the smash-hit musical is coming to London this year, with the cast soon to be announced.

In an interview with the director and choreographer of Newsies UK, Matt Cole, he said: “This is the show I’ve been waiting for. This is the one I have been dreaming of.” Cole has previously been nominated for an Olivier Award for his work on the West End production of “Fiddler On The Roof”, and wants to “create New York City in the space.” He has described this production as immersive, having stated: “As soon as the audience walks through the doors, they are not in an auditorium, they are in 1800 New York City.” 

Unlike other productions of “Newsies”, this production will be staged in the round. Cole said: “No one seat is going to have the same experience.” Contrasting traditional West End theatres where the stage is situated further away from the audience, the director expressed that his production’s set will make it so that “everywhere you’re looking”, there will be “something different going on, and I think that feels exciting.” The idea is that the audience will be “sat inside that world” rather than spectating it, bringing a whole new dimension to the production. 

The show is accompanied by a plethora of music by the famed composer and songwriter Alan Menken. When discussing the music from the show, Cole expressed that, while it “might not stand out to people immediately”, his favourite song is “Once and For All”. He carried on by saying that “Alan Menken has written that song quite geniusly in how it builds and how it translates”. When asked whether there would be any new musical additions in the London show, Cole stated: “You’ll just have to wait and see.” 

There are several extremely talented creatives working alongside Cole for this production, including associate choreographer Jane McMurtrie and set designer Morgan Large. When talking about the crew that he’s working with, Cole said: “Whenever you go into any show…you want to sit in it with your team, with the dancers, with your creatives, and just feel the freedom to create.” 

There is a much broader message to take away from this show. While the production is spectacularly entertaining and a true work of genius, above all, this show is about standing up for what you believe in and fighting against injustice. Cole commented: “I think if anybody can leave that audience with the ability to think about that in the wider world and question whether we should be standing up to things, I think that is an amazing thing to take away from a show. Ultimately that is what theatre should be used for, to raise issues and to hold a mirror up to life.” 

Tickets for “Newsies” at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre will be on sale in May 2022. You can sign up to be the first to buy tickets here.

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