Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Awesome Female Role Models- Katherine Plumber

Continuing with my series on awesome female role models! Today I'm talking about another character from a musical.

Katherine Plumber from the Broadway musical, Newsies.

As my long time blog readers know, last year I took a trip to New York and saw the musical Newsies. I completely fell in love!

If you are familiar with the movie, Newsies, there are two characters you will not find in the stage production. They are Sarah (the love interest) and Denton (the reporter). On stage, they combined these two characters and created Katherine Plumber.This is one of the changes between the film and stage production that I loved.

Sarah, in the movie, wasn't very prominent in the story and honestly was a weak character.

Denton was important to the story, (and I believe in the true story of the newsboys strike) but as a character I never liked him much.

Katherine Plumber however, I love!
Katherine in one of her first encounters with Jack "Cowboy" Kelly. Source
Reasons why Katherine Plumber is awesome:
  • In a show that is run by men, she holds her own as one of the very few female characters. She can hang out with the guys, they listen to her, but she doesn't lose her own femininity.
  • Katherine made her own way in the world. She goes against the status quo and society stereotypes to do what she loves - writing. Even if that means she is the only woman with a job and has to fight her way through.
  • She's willing to take a stand. The big message of the musical Newsies is to stand up for your rights and what you believe in. Everyone has a voice. Katherine is all about sharing her voice, but also giving a voice to those who can't do it themselves. She's scared of what's going to happen and isn't sure of what to say - but she does it anyway because she knows it's the right thing to do.
  • She doesn't fall for Jack's moves right away. He starts to flirt with her and she won't take that crap. I think this is actually part of why Jack falls for her. Just because a cute boy smiles at her, she won't forget everything she's about and go weak at the knees. (Although she is tempted to!)
  • Katherine doesn't wait around for Jack to figure out what he wants. Through the show it's obvious she and Jack have feelings for each other. But he's more unsure of their relationship than she is. She's the one to make the first big move and kisses him first and reassures him that he IS worthy of love, even if he doesn't see it in himself.
  • Even when Jack isn't there, she can still go on. Yes, he helps to bring her up and give her confidence. That's an awesome thing! But even when Jack has doubts about the strike she keeps going with it and brings him back, and encourages the other boys to keep going even when times get hard.
  • Katherine continues to be strong, even when the odds are against her. Even when her family doesn't support her and she's on her own in the big bad scary world, she keeps going.
A few flaws to look out for:
  • It's awesome that she goes out on her own and doesn't do what is expected of her. She lives her own life and does what she thinks is right. However, she kind of cuts her father out of her life in the process. While it's understandable why she does this, I do hope at some point she and her father make amends. Family is important and you need to work out your issues!
  • Historically, the changes the musical made aren't right. (But story-wise it was awesome!) During that time period women weren't reporters. They just weren't.*
  • She's in major denial for a bit about liking Jack - just give in girl. The rest of us have.
  • "Give those kids and me the brand new century and watch what happens. It's David and Goliath, do or die, the fight is on and I can't watch what happens. But all I know is nothing happens if you just give in. It can't be any worse than how it's been. And it just so happens that we just might win. So whatever happens, let's begin!"
  • "The world finds ways to sting you, until one day decides to bring you something to believe in, for even a night. One night may be forever, but that's all right, that's all right. And if you're gone tomorrow, what was ours still will be. I have something to believe in, now that I know you believe in me."
  • "I've got a headline for you. Cheeky boy gets nothing for his troubles."
  • "The only thing I'm following is a story."
  • "'Newsies stop the World.' Huh... a little hyperbole never hurt no one."
  • "Now that's how you turn a boy into a legend."
  • "Let's get drunk! Not with liquor, fame works quicker, when you're king of New York."
  • "And if I was a boy you'd be looking at me with one swollen eye!"
  • "Being smart isn't about having the right answers. It's about having the brains to know when you see the right one."
Have any of you seen the show? What do you think of Katherine? Any thoughts on the character changes from the movie to the stage production? Which fictional female characters do you think I should feature on the blog in the future?

Here is Katherine's big song in Newsies. If you can't see the video click this link:

* - Since writing this post, Disney emailed me to send me some information about the historical accuracy of Katherine's character. There was in fact a female reporter named Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (Nellie Bly was her pen name) who was a foreign affairs corespondant for Pulitzer's "New York World" in 1899. The writer of the show, Harvey Fierstien, and Kara Lindsay who played Katherine, took a lot of inspiration from her life to create Katherine's character. You can read more about her here: 

How amazing is that? Talk about an awesome female role model.


  1. The first time I ever saw Newsies was at your house!! I remember your trip to New York; I was so excited you were seeing the musical you've always loved. I was really intrigued that the musical created a character that struck such a chord with you. That's awesome!!

    1. Yeah it was! I might have a copy of the Broadway performance for you to watch next. I saw the movie for the first time since seeing it on stage... and it was so weird!

  2. I love her character. Her and Jack are one of my favorite stage couples.

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