If Broadway should, for a similar risk-averse pressures as Hollywood, maintain rummaging by way of the library for increasingly more previous touchstones to adapt, it might do worse than The Outsiders. SE Hinton’s seminal younger grownup novel has been a staple of center and highschool English lessons for greater than half a century for a cause. Although its as soon as cutting-edge content material, controversial for 1967 – violence, dependancy, melancholy, realist descriptions of socio-economic wrestle, countless cigarettes – not really feel risqué in 2024, the novel bottled a sure timeless teenage angst. Hinton’s guide, written when she was simply 16 and printed when she was a freshman in faculty, has lengthy linked with younger audiences additionally feeling disenfranchised, ostracized, doubted or simply misplaced in a churn of emotion.

The Broadway musical model, with a guide by Adam Rapp and Justin Levine, tries very earnestly to faucet the vein of uncut craving and pent-up frustration, with a lightweight contact of Americana sound and a heavy emphasis on small-town desires. Everybody concerned, together with government producer Angelina Jolie, appears to be approaching the mission in good religion to the legacy of the unique (and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 movie), with real curiosity in wringing one thing new (and lyrical) out of those repressed youngsters and now old-timey slang. (Jolie reportedly obtained concerned on the advice of her 15-year-old daughter Vivienne, who noticed the musical in its first outing on the La Jolla Playhouse.) The manufacturing is the platonic splendid of a retro traditional rebooted for Broadway, broadly interesting to audiences younger and outdated (my displaying was cut up between boomers and youngsters) however not significantly searing, recognizable however not terribly distinct, honest and competent but not resounding.

As within the novel, the present, directed by Danya Taymor (Move Over), is narrated by Ponyboy Curtis (an interesting Brody Grant), a moony 14-year-old who desires of leaving 1967 Tulsa and escapes his troubles by way of books and films like Cool Hand Luke (the cavernous set, designed by the collective AMP, efficiently doubles as a large projection display on a number of events, with projection design by Hana S Kim). In plaintive, perfunctory track – the music and lyrics from Levine and the Americana duo Jamestown Revival tinge customary present tunes with people and a splash of pop-country – Ponyboy relays his uneasy state of affairs. His mother and father had been killed in a automotive crash; his oldest brother Darrel (Brent Comer) works lengthy, menial hours to maintain the household afloat (and has a number of songs to specific his frustration, justice for oldest siblings!); his good-looking center brother Sodapop (Jason Schmidt) is heartbroken and caught up in native gang of working-class youngsters referred to as the Greasers, led by a lone wolf out-of-towner named Dallas Winston (Joshua Boone).

The Greasers have a vicious rivalry with the richer, cross-town “Socs” (as in “socials”), who’re “increase the west aspect whereas the east aspect falls aside”, as Grant sings, his voice wealthy and entreating, particularly within the quieter moments. Brutal clique bitterness is an outdated story, one not made rather more distinct right here: the Greasers and Socs hate one another, but Ponyboy connects with queen bee Cherry Valance (Emma Pittman) at an intra-gang drive-in over their mutual alienation; when their respective teams discover out, horrible violence ensues, driving a reluctant Ponyboy and his beloved finest buddy Johnny Cade (Sky Lakota-Lynch) out of city.

Although a traditional guide in its personal proper, the present’s drive-in dance-off, petty gang rivalries and rumbles stay within the shadows of such traditional musicals as Grease and West Facet Story, even when Taymor tries to distinguish it with extra gritty, visceral spins on the violence. The moments from which you’ll’t come again – a concussion, a punch, a dying – are rendered in close to strobe-lit gradual movement, glimpses and snippets somewhat than scenes. (The Outsiders additionally reminds us: is there any sound extra portentous than that of an oncoming prepare?) You may see, within the searing flashes of designer Brian MacDevitt’s lights and staccato, beautiful combat choreography by the brothers Rick and Jeff Kuperman, a extra trendy understanding of how trauma shreds reminiscence, of how violence obliterates all it touches.

The Outsiders, one eye on the previous and the opposite on the current, additionally strikes a tough steadiness on race – not fairly race-blind in its casting (the Coppola film is distinctly white working class), however not didactic, both. The shiftiness of Johnny Cade’s jittery, nervous consciousness (Lakota-Lynch is of Native American descent) and Dallas’s lament of being persecuted wherever he goes permits the viewers to fill in the remaining. Similar for the minimalist, industrial set of rafters, scaffolding and wood planks, the skeletons of projections – a drive-in movie show, a billboard, an deserted church the place Ponyboy and Johnny cover out.

Hinton had a aptitude for melodrama; the extremes of teenage emotion nonetheless peek by way of the story decisions, even in a manufacturing this slick and customarily by the numbers. In musical kind, The Outsiders is at occasions overly, achingly unhappy, typically curiously staid, and at all times feeling in debt to one thing greater. It’s, I suppose, the sensation of a traditional, carried out up for the current.


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