The Outsiders

Tickets from $69  Buy Tickets


Photo: Matthew Murphy Review
At the end of “The Outsiders,” both S.E. Hinton’s groundbreaking 1967 novel about teen class warfare in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the faithful and very satisfying musical adaptation now open at the Jacobs Theatre, there is the lingering question of whether good-hearted, slightly troubled teen Ponyboy Curtis (played by charismatic newcomer Brody Grant) can always “stay gold” – which means pursuing his dreams of being a writer, leaving Oklahoma, and, yes, remaining on the right side of the law.

However, for Broadway awards watchers, there’s another lingering question -- one that will be answered definitively -- in about two months: Can “The Outsiders” earn the gold – aka the Tony Award for Best Musical? It’s a bit too early to call, but the show has enough first-rate elements that I suspect it will at least be a contender.

Its story, adapted by Adam Rapp and Justin Levine (who is also credited with lyrics, music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations) is aimed squarely at anyone who has ever felt like an “outsider,” no matter if you’re 14 or 64. The former age belongs to the recently orphaned Ponyboy, who along with his best friend Johnny Cade (a touching Sky Lakota-Lynch) and his two older brothers, the hard-working if somewhat embittered Darrel (a strong-voiced Brent Comer) and the good-natured Sodapop (the endearing and impressively fit Jason Schmidt), are members of the “greasers,” an ad hoc gang from the wrong part of town.

Their socio-economic status, as much as anything, has made them the enemy of the richer socs (aka socialites), and this inter-class rivalry only gets more heated when Ponyboy strikes up a long if essentially innocent conversation with the sweet-but-smart Cherry (an excellent Emma Pittman) -- the girlfriend of blustering, obnoxious Bob (a well-cast Kevin William Paul) -- at the local drive-in.

To say the rich kids don’t take kindly to the idea of Ponyboy interacting with Cherry is an understatement! In fact, it leads over the course of the musical to one almost-death, one actual death, Ponyboy and Johnny leaving town with the aid of New York-born ex-convict Dallas Winston (Joshua Boone in a phenomenal turn), another tragic death, and a violent rumble in which everyone still alive joins in.

Even with its echoes of “West Side Story,” that lengthy fight, which involves a rain curtain (yep, another one), is among the most imaginative scenes staged by director Danya Taymor and choreographers Rick and Jeff Kuperman on the show’s clever industrial set (designed by AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian) -- and aided in no small part by the brilliant lighting by Brian McDevitt.

Still, for all of its action sequences (including the sudden burning of a church), the show leaves plenty of time (perhaps a bit too much) for the characters to sing about their feelings in songs, all penned by the Texas-based band Jamestown Revival (aka Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), whether it’s Ponyboy expressing his hopes and fears in “Great Expectations,” Cherry and Ponyboy connecting emotionally in “I Could Talk to You All Night,” Dallas explaining his drastic actions in “Little Brother” or Johnny imploring his best friend to, yes, “Stay Gold.” Indeed, the score, while a tad ballad-heavy, is one of the best I’ve heard on Broadway this season.

Intriguingly, “The Outsiders,” unlike “West Side Story,” has no conventional love story; Ponyboy and Cherry are nothing more – and remain nothing more -- than unlikely friends. In fact, the show is all about men’s platonic love for other men (even if one occasionally senses a slight homoerotic bond between Ponyboy and Johnny). Indeed, it would benefit even a bit more from repeatedly showing the unbreakable familial bond among the three Curtis brothers, a fact that becomes crystal clear when the show finally does just that in its final sequences.

While an immediate ticket to this sure-to-be-hit may be hard to come by, don’t let yourself stay an outsider. This show is worth coming into a theater!

By Brian Scott Lipton

Visit the Site

Open/Close Dates
Opening 4/10/2024
Closing Open-ended

Theatre Info
Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036