Well, the moment we've been dreading has arrived: Yesterday, Newsies ended its Broadway run, after its 1,005th show. Of course, this isn't the show's true ending(!), Newsies kicks off its national tour this October. Still, the closing was an incredible event. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at the Nederlander Theater, and while the afternoon ended on a teary note, the show couldn't have gone out with a bigger bang. Here are just a few of the ingredients that helped make the final performance so spectacular:
5. The fans. Newsies held a lottery for a limited number of tickets to the final show. This is how many #Fansies showed up:
4. Sitting with celebs. To quote an awestruck (and totally correct) girl sitting behind me, I got to "share the same breathing air" with former Newsies dancers—including Alex Wong, Ryan Steele, JP Ferreri, Mike Faist, Ryan Breslin and Jess LeProtto. Oh, and also director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Christopher Gattelli.
3. The dancers' energy. It's been a long time since I've seen so many dancers on one stage give as much love to the choreography as the guys did yesterday. Every battement was 180-degrees. Every back flip went soaring.
Every split jump by every dancer literally looked like this:
Iain Young (photo by Matthew Murphy)
Which brings me to number 2...
2. The standing ovations. The audience (starting with my crew in rows D–F) leapt to its feet after every deserving number—which, of course, was all of them. The energy in the theater was buzzing.
1. The final curtain call. There was not a dry eye in the house—or onstage. It was heart wrenching—and heart warming!—to watch Newsies come to a close, especially since many members of the current cast had been part of it since day one. (I'm looking at you, Aaron Albano!) And after the final bow by Corey Cott (you know him as Jack Kelly), the creative team also walked onstage to take a bow, and everyone totally lost it.
Take a look at the last dance number and curtain call, and I dare you not to tear up, too:
Dancers reveal the funniest—and sweetest—things their fans have ever done for them.
Corey Cott (by Lorenzo Bevilaqua)
Jack Kelly in Newsies on Broadway
"Newsies has the most incredible, loyal fans ever. There are kids who have come to the show 60 or 70 times, and at the stage door we’re on a first-name basis. They even come to our softball games (all the shows on Broadway have their own softball teams) and bring cookies and treats.
"They make us really creative things, like bracelets and drawings. Every day it’s something new. One fan gave me a toy train with the words “Santa Fe” on it, since my character wants to get on a train to Santa Fe. I have that on a shelf in my dressing room. And someone brought a rubber toy “pape” for my new puppy.
"The drawings people have done of me are my favorites. Some are more realistic than others. Over the last year I’ve hung them up on my dressing room door, and now it’s
become a wall of more than 25 drawings."
Maddie Ziegler (by Portraits with Pride)
"One time, I arrived at the studio and a boy came up to me and gave me a dozen roses and a long letter. He and his dad were in town for a hockey tournament. They were all dressed up, and had flowers for my mom and my sister, too.
"In the letter, he said he loved my dancing, and he gave me his phone number and a school picture. I still have the dried flowers and the letter at home. It’s funny that so many boys like the show!"
Sarah Lamb in Christopher Wheeldon’s Electric Counterpoint (Johan Persson)
Principal, The Royal Ballet
“I was dancing Sugar Plum Fairy once in Atlanta, and I received the most beautiful and surprising present. A girl gave me a very old copy of e. e. cummings’ The Enormous Room. She must have read in an article somewhere that he’s one of my favorite writers. It was exceptional; this girl seemed to know me so well, despite the fact we’d never met.”
Rasta Thomas (Courtesy Bad Boys of Dance)
Creator of Bad Boys of Dance
"I used to have a PO box where fans could send letters, and I would get pictures, candy and handwritten love letters with perfume and little lipstick kisses on them. Now, most fan mail is through Facebook or email. The love letters are always flattering—and the “Will you marry me?” ones are extra-special!
"Some of the dancers in my company have fans who have actually tattooed the dancers’ faces somewhere on their bodies. Ryan Carlson and the Lombard twins have both reached tattoo status. I can’t say I’ve been tattooed yet. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone—my nose is far too big!"
Amelia Lowe in a Mandy Moore routine with fellow contestant Will Thomas (Adam Rose/FOX)
“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 contestant
"Last November, I was on the 'SYTYCD' tour in Boston and we performed on the night of my birthday. I was bummed the whole day because it was my first birthday away from home and without my family around.
"When we walked out the stage door, there were about 70 fans who had waited half an hour in the cold to see us. I mentioned to one of them that it was my birthday, and then the entire line sang 'Happy Birthday to You' to me! It was this line of complete strangers who just wanted the best for me, and it totally cheered me up and made me feel special."
Yann Trividic in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony (by Kyle Froman)
Former principal dancer, Miami City Ballet
"Sometimes, when fans hug me, they try to sneak in a kiss! I have to turn my face so they wind up kissing my cheek.When people feel moved, sometimes they have a very special way of expressing how thankful they are. And that’s OK—I’m French, it works"
Sarah Pasch in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco (by Angela Sterling)
Corps de ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet
"Our company toured to NYC last February, and before we left Seattle, our videographer went around and asked a few people what our must-have airplane supplies were. I said crossword puzzles.
"When we got back, a young girl named Ella, who goes to the PNB school, stopped me in the hallway and said, “Sarah, I saw your video and that you really like crossword puzzles, and I brought you some!” It was the sweetest thing. Ever since she was my “daughter” in the Nutcracker a couple years ago, she’s been one of my biggest fans."
(L to R) Katie Finnegan, Clarke Thorell and J. Elaine Marcos in Annie (by Joan Marcus)
J. Elaine Marcos
Lily St. Regis in Annie on Broadway
"In my last show, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I did a dance number, and my “trick” at the end was shooting hundreds of Ping-Pong balls into the audience from my costume and my mouth. If someone got a Ping-Pong ball, it was like catching a baseball at a game. They would ask me to sign them at the stage door.
"A lot of fans gave me bedazzled Ping-Pong balls, and one fan made me a mold of a mouth with a Ping-Pong ball inside. There was glitter on the lips because Priscilla is all about glitter and sparkles. I thought, “Oh my gosh! Someone took the time to do all of this!” It was sweet, and very funny.
"Then, on my opening night of Annie, my former Priscilla fans sent me lilies, since my character is named Lily St. Regis. My entire dressing room was filled with lilies"