‘The Outsiders,’ a Broadway Adaptation of the Classic Novel, Wins the Tony for Best Musical


The Outsiders,” a muscular stage adaptation of the classic young adult novel about class conflict between a pair of high school gangs, won the coveted Tony Award for best musical on Sunday.

The show, which has been gaining steam at the box office, is set in Tulsa, Okla., in 1967, and is based not only on the best-selling 1967 novel by S.E. Hinton, but also on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film adaptation.

The musical is gritty, bloody and relentlessly youthful — the creative team eliminated virtually all adult characters, and the show features some of the most effectively vivid violence seen on a Broadway stage, using a mix of fight choreography, strobe-like lighting and percussive sound design to evoke the brutality pervading these adolescent lives. The show is saturated with water and dirt, but also with poetry and literature, as its orphaned protagonist turns to reading and writing to escape the circumstances of his childhood.

The show received mixed reviews from critics; in The New York Times, the chief theater critic, Jesse Green, wrote that “many stunning things are happening on the stage of the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater — and from the sobs I heard the other night, in the audience, too.” But, he said, “structural problems mean its achievements don’t stick.”

Nonetheless, in recent weeks the show has been playing to full houses, fueled in part by healthy interest from young patrons, and it has been grossing about $1 million a week, which is solid but not spectacular for a show of this scale. The Tony Award should provide the show with a box office boost.

“The Outsiders” features a score from the country duo Jamestown Revival in collaboration with the Broadway musical artist Justin Levine; the musical’s book is by the playwright Adam Rapp, also in collaboration with Levine. It is directed by Danya Taymor — a niece of “The Lion King” director Julie Taymor, she is helming a major musical for the first time — and choreographed by the brothers Rick and Jeff Kuperman.

The musical began its production life with a run last year at the nonprofit La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. The Broadway production, which opened in April, has a huge producing team led by the Araca Group, established by two brothers, Matthew and Michael Rego, and their childhood friend Hank Unger. The show was capitalized for $22 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To win the best musical Tony, “The Outsiders” bested “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Illinoise,” “Suffs” and “Water for Elephants.”

A cast recording of “The Outsiders” was released in May by Sony Masterworks Broadway. And the musical’s producers have announced plans to start a North American tour in the fall of 2025, opening at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.



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