Kings of New York
Jeremy Jordan ’07 and Ben Fankhauser ’11 didn’t get the chance to share the Dillingham stage at IC, but last summer they both starred in Disney’s Broadway musical Newsies.
Although Jordan left the show last September for a role in the NBC musical drama Smash, Fankhauser continues to appear as Davey, one of the leaders of a rag-tag group of New York City newsboys who strike against newspaper titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The 1992 Disney movie wasn’t a blockbuster when it was released, but it gained a cult following, and the Broadway retelling of the story has been a huge hit since it opened last March.
Jordan even garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Jack Kelly, the charismatic head newsie who daydreams about moving to Sante Fe. The role was played in the film by Christian Bale.
“It’s funny how you dream about these sorts of things, and then it happens, and it’s like, ‘OK, it’s here. I'm still me,’” Jordan told Rolling Stone.
Jordan also starred opposite Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah on the big screen in last winter’s Joyful Noise, and he’ll make his TV debut on the upcoming season of Smash.
Both Jordan and Fankhauser were big fans of Newsies before it hit Broadway.
“I burned through millions of VHS tapes,” Jordan says. “My fanaticism for the film was intense.”
He told the New York Daily News that as an upperclassman at IC he put on a show for incoming freshmen that had a Newsies theme, but instead of singing “Santa Fe,” they sang “BFA.”
Fankhauser played Crutchie in an “unauthorized” summer camp production. In the stage production, he says, the portrayal of Davey is more earnest than it is in the film. Davey starts out as an outsider and eventually ends up leading the protests.
“It's a tough role to balance,” Fankhauser says. “He grows from a sheepish boy to a really self-confident young adult.”
Fankhauser had a similar experience when he first came to IC.
“You know when you’re going to college for the first time and you’re moving in, and a lot of people know each other already, and they’re hugging each other, and you’re standing there smiling, waiting for someone to come over and introduce themselves?” he says. “That’s how Davey feels when he first meets all the newsies. It was just like my first day of college.”
Thankfully, a group of juniors in the IC bookstore recognized Fankhauser from his Facebook profile, and they came over and started talking to him.
“I felt so cool when they took me under their wing,” he says. “They were almost seniors, and here I was, a little freshman.”
Fankhauser also remembers feeling like a fish out of water when he first got to New York City, but he wasn’t there long before he landed a part in Newsies at the Paper Mill Playhouse. The audition was his fourth or fifth in the city.
“I went in on a Monday, did the dances that night, and read with Jeremy the next day, and they offered me the role that night,” he says.
Although their time at IC didn’t overlap, Jordan and Fankhauser recognized each other right away: they had met once over pizza at Sammy’s on The Commons, when Jordan came back to visit his alma mater.
– Robin Roger