I was eleven years old when I first discovered Newsies. I didn’t even realize what I had discovered at the time. It took me almost a year to hunt down what it was that had so mesmerized me. But once I laid eyes on those dirty, incorrigible boys, they had me. They never let me go.
I’m going to dwell on this for a moment, and I fear that this entry may become quite lengthy. Understand that this is because Newsies irreversibly changed my life. I would not be the person I am today were it not for this film.
The first time I saw Newsies, it was playing on my grandmother’s television. I caught about twenty minutes of it and was hooked. I had to wait over a month for it to air on television again so that my grandmother could record it on VHS, because we couldn’t find it anywhere to purchase.
That VHS became a crucial part of my life. It was riddled with commercial breaks and there were scenes missing, but it was mine. I was a girl obsessed. I watched that VHS repeatedly day after day after day. I memorized every line. I memorized every lyric. I fell in love with Jack, then Spot, then Blink. Then Spot again.
I joined a Yahoo! Group called the NML. I honestly don’t even remember what that stands for. Newsies Mailing List? What I do know is that the NML became my family. Were it not for the NML that I joined at the age of twelve, I would not have met the majority of my best and dearest friends, with whom I remain in contact to this day. We went by ‘NN’s, or newsie nicknames. My nearest and dearest are Rogue, Stagemouse, Honor, and Fighter.
Were it not for Newsies, I never would have met Rogue (Kristen). She never would have facilitated my relocation to Virginia by helping me get a job and allowing me to become her roommate. She plucked me out of a really difficult time in Michigan, when I first returned from Scotland and was desperate for work after months of searching fruitlessly. She has touched my life in so many ways, I doubt I could ever fully explain. Her wisdom and advice are unmatched. She has brought me so much joy and helped me to avoid so much pain. She is also a facilitator to another life event that I will touch on this week.
Were it not for Newsies, I never would have met Stagemouse (Jacquie). She never would have inspired me to work hard to reach my goals by allowing me to be a part of her transformation from daydreamer to becoming Belle and meeting her photographer. She constantly inspires me to be a better, warmer, more generous human being. Our adventures together, both past and future (Disney in April!) have helped me trudge through some of the most mundane and dreary days.
Were it not for Newsies, I never would have met Honor (Johanna). She would have never taught me the treasure of exploring my imagination or how to bring a villain to life. She is possibly the strongest person I know, having faced so many trials and yet she still continues to fight and to remain positive. She has been in the hospital for almost five months, her life in complete upheaval, and yet she remains so ridiculously strong. She has taught me perseverance and the power of a positive attitude.
Were it not for Newsies, I would have never met Fighter (Emily). She would have never been there for me when I was all alone in a foreign country, lost and completely forlorn. She suffered the loss of two brothers and fought a serious disorder, but remains the brightest, most clever ray of sunlight in the darkness. She taught me how to be a better, more conscious and giving friend. She taught me that sometimes being a good friend is letting go. I will never forget her.
All of these girls have played an enormous role in who I am as a writer. They have all taught me how to write works of fiction, but they have all also contributed to a character that I now work to bring to life in my novel. They will always be a huge, massive part of who I am; of who he is. That’s invaluable to me. And it would never have been a reality had I not caught 20 minutes of a musical on television at my grandma’s house.
In addition to the countless other wonderful girls I met on the NML, Newsies also helped me to connect with girls I already knew, but didn’t know. A girl from my school saw Newsies in my purse (after an uncle bought it for me) and asked me about it. We became fast friends, and soon we had joined our own little ‘club’ based on a common interest. Three girls, all from vastly different backgrounds, connected inexplicably by a silly Disney musical.
There are truly no words to express or describe the impact that this musical has had upon my life. I can’t imagine a world where I never discovered Newsies. I don’t even want to. I’m sure that it may seem silly to most that something as trivial as a Disney musical filmed in 1992 could change a life, but I promise you that I’m not exaggerating. I know that I’m not the only one.
And on December 19, 2015, I had the utmost pleasure of seeing Newsies on broadway with one of these girls. While there were certainly changes to the musical, it was beyond magical to get to experience. The songs were beautiful, the set was amazing, everything… everything was magic.