The Outsiders – A Moving Tale Of Muscular Misfits And Chosen Family

The cast of The Outsiders (photo: Matthew Murphy)
The cast of The Outsiders (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Amid an intoxicating blend of testosterone and tenderness, the gripping new Broadway musical The Outsiders shares a coming-of-age story of family bonds (both chosen and blood-born) and the eternal clash of “haves and have-nots.”

Adapted from S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel and Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic 1983 film adaptation, The Outsiders (book by Adam Rapp and Justin Levine) follows the Curtis brothers, who live on the wrong side of the tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, circa 1967. Our narrator, Ponyboy (Brody Grant in a stunning Broadway debut), is a sensitive teen with aspirations of a better life.


He lives with his two brothers – older brawny bro Sodapop (Jason Schmidt, who garners whoops from the audience by doffing his shirt within seconds) and eldest brother Darrel (Brent Comer), who’s become the stand-in father figure since their parents died in a train crash.

L-R Sky Lakota-Lynch, Brody Grant (photo: Matthew Murphy)
L-R Sky Lakota-Lynch, Brody Grant in The Outsiders (photo: Matthew Murphy)

When not hanging with his bestie – quiet, introspective Johnny Cade (Sky Lakota-Lynch) – Ponyboy spends his time writing in his notebook and reading the classics like Dickens’ Great Expectations.

Along with several others in their neighborhood, they are part of the lower-class “Greasers,” who often clash with the more privileged “Socs” (short for ‘socials’) who live on the west side of town, led by Bob (Kevin William Paul) and his sweetheart girlfriend Cherry (Emma Pittman).

L-R Emma Pittman, Brody Grant in The Outsiders (photo: Matthew Murphy)
L-R Emma Pittman, Brody Grant in The Outsiders (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Among the Greasers is ex-con Dallas (Joshua Boone), who takes Ponyboy and Johnny under his wing. When an innocent drive-in conversation between Ponyboy and Cherry leads to a tragic encounter with Johnny killing one of the Socs in self-defense, Dallas gives the two boys money and directs them to hide from the police in an abandoned church. 

L-R Sky Lakota-Lynch, Joshua Boone in THE OUTSIDERS
L-R Sky Lakota-Lynch as Johnny, Joshua Boone as Dallas (photo: Matthew Murphy)

During their time in hiding, the duo reflect on the journey that brought them to here, and Ponyboy shares his love for the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” with Johnny which sets the stage for one of the musical highlights of the evening.


What follows is a tragic chain of events including a church fire, a suicide, and a final clash between the Greasers and the Socs before we’re left with a hint of hope on the horizon. While it’s a universal story, queer theatergoers will definitely connect with the plight of marginalized young people who have felt ‘other’ (aka ‘outsiders’).

Danya Taymor’s direction artfully handles the storytelling, keeping the pace on point and constantly repurposing surrounding junkyard items (set by design collective AMP) to create each setting from the drive-in movie, to the abandoned church, the Curtis home, Ponyboy’s bed, and more.

The Rumble (photo: Matthew Murphy)

Major props to Rick and Jeff Kuperman for their oh-so-muscular choreography, especially in the much-talked-about, spectacular, rain-soaked rumble. Paired with brilliant lighting by Brian MacDevitt and cinematic sound design by Cody Spencer, it’s a theatrical must-see moment.


The winning score by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine has just the right touches of guitar-based folk/Americana to remind us we’re in late-60s Oklahoma. Just a few standout songs include: Dallas’s first-act closer, “Run Run Brother,” as well as his second-act heartbreaker, “Little Brother;” the emotionally shattering “Stay Gold,” delivered by the pitch-perfect Ponyboy and Johnny; and the soul-baring “Throwing in the Towel,” wherein Darrel tells Sodapop he fears he’s failed Ponyboy.

The outstanding cast (which includes ten actors making their Broadway debut) is impressive across the board. With 12 Tony Award nominations, it’s not surprising that Brody Grant scored a nod for Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role In A Musical, and Sky Lokota-Lynch and Joshua Boone were honored in the Best Performance By An Actor In A Featured Role In A Musical category. Additional nominations include Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Direction, and Best Choreography.

I’ll make this prediction: it will win Best Musical at this year’s Tony Awards.

The Outsiders is running now at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. (Rated 5 out of 5 stars)

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