Harvey Fierstein and Alan Menken – librettist and composer of the new crowd-pleasing musical Newsies – are interviewed on a new THEATER TALK this weekend, premiering tonight, May 19 (2012) at 8:30 PM on CUNY TV*, followed by airings Sunday 5/20 (12:30 PM on CUNY TV) and Monday 5/21 (5 AM on Thirteen, and 7:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 7:30 PM on CUNY TV). THEATER TALK is co-hosted by Michael Riedel of the New York Post and producer Susan Haskins.
The co-creators (with lyricist Jack Feldman) of the new musical, nominated for 8 Tony Awards®, discuss the show's genesis from a money-losing 1992 Disney film (starring an 18-year-old Christian Bale who purportedly didn't know he had been signed to do a musical), all the way to a show quietly developed for stock and amateur rights at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse. The reviews there last year were strong enough to bring the show to Broadway, where now it is one of the season's biggest hits.
When Menken and Fierstein were exploring working together, and Fierstein inquired about Newsies, Menken turned him down. But "then Harvey took over," said Menken, turning the story from a musical about a newspaper strike to one about the empowerment of young people to take responsibility for a better world. Now the show's "fansies" are lining up at the box office.
Although Menken has won 8 Oscars® (out of 19 nominations), he has never won a Tony. While his theatre score is drawing plaudits, one of the original Newsies songs – not in the Broadway show – was the recipient of a Golden Raspberry Award (a "Razzie") for Worst Original Song of the Year back in 1992. Menken bravely performs it on THEATER TALK, along with other songs written or altered for the Broadway production. Incidentally, this year Menken has established a Tony Awards record, being the first composer to be represented by two Best Musical nominations in a single season.
THEATER TALK is jointly produced by not-for-profits Theater Talk Productions and CUNY TV. The program is taped in the Himan Brown TV and Radio Studios at The City University of New York (CUNY) TV in Manhattan, and is distributed to 70+ participating public television stations nationwide. THEATER TALK is made possible in part by The New York State Council on the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The TDF/TAP Plus Program, The CUNY TV Foundation and The Friends of THEATER TALK. [*CUNY TV, the City University of New York television station, is carried in New York City's five boroughs – on Channel 75 on Time Warner and Cablevision, Channel 77 on RCN, and on Channel 30 on Verizon FiOS. The show is available online anytime at www.cuny.tv and www.theatertalk.org, and via audio-only iTunes podcasts.