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The Broadway Review: ‘The Outsiders,’ A rival-gang story void of any risk

The Broadway adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s bestselling novel is a tame rendering of the American novel.

(L-R) Jason Schmidt as Sodapop Curtis, Sky Lakota-Lynch as Johnny Cade and Brody Grant as Ponyboy Curtis in Broadway’s “The Outsiders,” 2024 (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

Good morning, and welcome to Broadway News’ Broadway Review by Brittani Samuel — our overview of reactions, recommendations and information tied to last night’s Broadway opening of “The Outsiders.” 


(L-R) Jason Schmidt as Sodapop Curtis and Brody Grant as Ponyboy Curtis in Broadway’s “The Outsiders,” 2024 (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

Broadway has seen Shakespeare’s Capulets and Montagues, Arthur Laurents’ Sharks and Jets, and now, in “The Outsiders,” S.E. Hinton’s Greasers and Socs (short for “socialites”). The musical adaptation of the middle-school bookshelf staple uses the familiar antagonist framework found in those other works and treads closely to its original text, but book writers Adam Rapp and Justin Levine take creative (but unfortunately, not comprehensive) liberty to enhance the drama by sketching out all-white Socs and a mixed-race group of Greasers. All of our principal characters are still intact from the novel: the endearing, poetry-spinning protagonist Ponyboy (Brody Grant), his sheepish, ill-fated best friend Johnny (Sky Lakota-Lynch), his dudish brothers Sodapop (Jason Schmidt) and Darrel (Brent Comer). They are broken in some ways, deeply caring in others and wildly attractive. Case in point: A gaggle of young folks at the performance I attended squealed when Schmidt opened his shirt. (This demographic will undeniably be the lifeblood of this musical’s success.) But, scenic designers AMP and Tatiana Kahvegian’s tactile set of crunching dirt, exposed scaffolding and tire towers captures more authentic grit than any of the pugnacious characters do. That’s not to say that these actors lack talent. The production’s strenuous vocal, acting and dance demands are evident, and director Danya Taymor’s tight ensemble works like a well-oiled (well-greased?) machine.

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