Arts

‘The Outsiders’ Heads to Broadway, With Angelina Jolie as a Producer

Get ready to rumble.

“The Outsiders,” a new musical adaptation of the 1967 S.E. Hinton novel of teenage alienation, as well as the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film starring Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze and Ralph Macchio, will begin performances on Broadway this spring. The cast has yet to be named.

The musical is set in Tulsa, Okla., in the 1960s and follows an increasingly bloody conflict between rival gangs — the East Side have-nots, the Greasers, and the West Side haves, the Socs (short for “socials”). It will begin previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on March 16, with an opening slated for April 11.

“The Outsiders” was initially set for a world premiere at the Goodman Theater in Chicago in June 2020 before the pandemic delayed and then scuttled those plans. When the production finally began performances in California in February, it had a nearly three-hour run time, with a cast of 25 led by Brody Grant as Ponyboy Curtis, an orphaned 14-year-old who lives with his older brothers, Sodapop (Jason Schmidt) and Darrel (Ryan Vasquez), both of whom have left school to support him. (Sky Lakota-Lynch played his best friend, Johnny Cade.)

Angelina Jolie was announced last week as a lead producer. Jolie, whose credits as a film producer include “Maleficent” and “Unbroken,” saw the world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego this year with her 15-year-old daughter, Vivienne, whom she said will serve as her assistant (the pair also attended a touring production of “Dear Evan Hansen” in Philadelphia last year).

While some critics found the musical’s ambitious scale appealing, others thought the story was weighed down by too many characters and themes. “Awkward, yearning, fast on its feet, the show, like the adolescents it describes, is still trying on various identities,” Alexis Soloski wrote in a review for The New York Times, though she praised the “effortless yet thoughtfully diversified” casting of the Greasers, who, like the Socs, are white and male in both the book and the movie, as well as the “gorgeous, mournful music.” (The songs are by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, of Jamestown Revival, as well as Justin Levine, who won a Tony Award for his orchestrations for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”)

Danya Taymor (“Heroes of the Fourth Turning,” “Pass Over”), who directed the La Jolla production, will return for the Broadway run, as will the rest of the creative team. The book is by Adam Rapp (“The Sound Inside”) and Levine, who also handled the arrangements and orchestrations, with choreography by Rick and Jeff Kuperman.

In addition to Jolie, the show’s producers also include American Zoetrope, the San Francisco film production company founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas; as well as Sue Gilad and Larry Rogowsky (“Moulin Rouge!,” “Funny Girl”).

Hinton’s novel, which was published when she was a teenager, has long been celebrated for its relatable protagonist and unpolished authenticity. But those same qualities have also put it on frequently challenged books lists for its portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking and strong language.

“The Outsiders” joins two other Broadway productions that have announced dates for next year. “Prayer for the French Republic,” Joshua Harmon’s dark comedy about a family grappling with antisemitism in France, opens in January; and “The Notebook,” a musical adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s best-selling romance novel, opens in March.

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