Ninth of a series

NEW YORK – When a seminal youth novel is  made into a movie, and years later reinvented as a Broadway musical, the challenges are many.

S.E. Hinton’s  1967 young adult book, a staple literary classic for English middle school and high school students, also became a 1983  hit film about teen-age angst, with a stellar cast of unknown actors who became mega-stars.

So yes, “The Outsiders” has a storied past. The film version, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, made stars of Rob Lowe (Sodapop Curtis), Patrick Swayze (Darrel Curtis), Matt Dillon (Dallas Winston), Ralph Macchio (Johnny Cade), C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy Michaels), Tom Cruise (Steve Randle), and Emilio Esteves (Two-Bit Matthews). The key actress then was Diane Lane (Cherry Valance).

The Broadway arrival can’t match the stardust from the film version but boasts a couple of key talent —  Brody Grant (Ponyboy), Sky Lakota-Lynch (Johnny), and Joshua Boone (Dallas) – who are Tony nominees this year. The production also is nominated for Best New Musical and Best Book of a Musical and Best Director.

A scene from “The Outsiders,” a new Broadway musical.

Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “The Outsiders”  — playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre –- is essentially a story of socio-class conflict between the Greasers and the Socs– specifically, between Ponyboy and his colleagues from the other side of the tracks, and Soc leader Bob (Kevin William Paul), whose girlfriend Cherry Valance (Emma Pittman) gets involved with Ponyboy, igniting the furor.

“The Outsiders” scopes familiar grounds like gang wars, cultural clashes, territorial turf. There’s a lot of tension and turmoil along the way.

The rain scene in “The Outsiders.”

While Ponyboy and Johnny reflect on days past, they are confronted by Soc Bob and his hooligans. Johnny is beaten and Ponyboy is nearly drowned in a park fountain, till Johnny – carrying a knife – stabs Bob.

So they flee on a train, finding momentary solace at an abandoned church.

There’s a fractured bond among the Curtis brothers, whose parents have died in a car accident.  Ponyboy is literate and academically accomplished; his oldest brother is the surrogate parent bro Darrel, the hard worker who had to quit school to hold two jobs. Sodapop is the middle bro, open-spirited with charm and a good-looker.

The tone is dark and murky, for the most part, with shadowy fisticuffs and nocturnal escapes, with lots of cigarette smoking. To perhaps cool out the flames, a rumble in the rain is an exquisite visual moment.

Director Danya Taymor’s storytelling is visceral and intuitive, enabling her cast to move the story with power.

Unlike the novel  and the film, the musical is modernized to include multiracial casting, with blacks and whites and a Native American (Lakota-Lynch). The book by Adam Rapp and Justine Levine is properly gritty, and the musical score by Jamestown Revival (Johnathan Clay and Zach Chance) and the aforementioned Levine help cloak the friction.

Voices are strong and several tunes stand out – “Hopeless War,” by Ponyboy and Cherry; “Far Away from Tulsa,” by Ponyboy; and “Stay Gold,” by Johnny and Ponyboy – but this is not “Oklahoma!”…

‘Lion King’ still roaring hot

“The Lion King” remains the king of the Broadway Grosses jungle for yet another week.

And at No. 2, “Wicked” still has its magic.

The Top 10:

1–“The Lion King,” $2,090 million.

 2—”Wicked,” $2,007 million.

 3—”Hamilton,” $1,905 million.

 4—”Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” $1,899 million.

 5—”Merrily We Roll Along,” $1,762 million.

 6—”Hell’s Kitchen,” $1,638 million.

 7—”The Wiz,” $1,372 million.

8–“Aladdin,” $1,353 million.

9—”MJ the Musical,” $1,253 million.

10—”The Great Gatsby,” $1,172 million.

The entire list, courtesy the Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz…

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