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‘The Outsiders’: anatomy of a rumble

Tony Award-nominated director Danya Taymor, choreographers Rick and Jeff Kuperman, sound designer Cody Spencer and more describe what it took to create the breathtaking brawl in the new Broadway musical. 

The company of Broadway’s “The Outsiders” rumble in the rain (Credit: Matthew Murphy, 2024)

In the Tony Award-nominated script for “The Outsiders,” co-book writer Adam Rapp penned stage directions to create a specific atmosphere for the rumble in the rain. Whether in novel, film or musical form, the climax of “The Outsiders” is this rumble between the working class Greasers (including protagonist Ponyboy) and the affluent Socs. The creators of the musical built their production to lead to this epic battle that feels chillingly authentic. But it started with Rapp’s text:

“Both sides converge on each other like rival wolfpacks. … It’s simply the brutal sound of boys grunting, fists detonating into flesh, cries and grunts. It goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time. It starts to rain and the dirt from the park quickly turns to mud. The scene turns ancient, primordial. Blood and mud and rain and thunder. Boys fighting for their lives.” 

The onstage manifestation transports audiences to the dark and abandoned Pershing Park. When the character of Paul, a Soc, suckerpunches Darrell, a Greaser, the gangs lunge at one another. A melee of fists and feet, pouring rain and flinging gravel eventually slows to a unified ballet-like beatdown.

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