Video: See Joshua Boone Perform 'Little Brother' From The Outsiders | Playbill

Spring Preview 2024 Video: See Joshua Boone Perform 'Little Brother' From The Outsiders

The Broadway musical adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel is a plea for empathy towards society's outcast.

With Broadway's The Outsiders now in previews, actor Joshua Boone stopped by Playbill Studios to give a sneak peek at one of the most pivotal moments in the show. Boone performed the song "Little Brother," as part of Playbill's Spring Preview series, sponsored by Princess Cruises. He is accompanied by composer, book-writer, and lyricist Justin Levine on the piano.

Adapted from S.E. Hinton's novel and Francis Ford Coppola's film version, The Outsiders is set in 1967 Tulsa, Oklahoma, as Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade, and their chosen family of "outsiders" are in a fight for survival and a quest for purpose in a world that may never accept them. Boone stars as Dallas, who serves as an older brother figure to Johnny, feeling a deep protectiveness over him. But then, Dallas' whole world is rocked in one Act II moment, which is depicted through the song performed in the video above. 

"[The song] is a cry, it's a release. It's everything that these characters have been holding inside finally coming out," says Boone in his interview with Playbill ahead of his emotional performance.

"At this point, Dally doesn't reveal his feelings too often, and over the course of the show, he begins to crack. This is the deepest crack where he begins to shatter," Boone says. 

Boone describes Dallas' connection to Johnny as going several layers deeper than an older brother; by looking out for Johnny, Dallas feels he is almost looking out for a younger version of himself. "Johnny is, in my opinion, who Dallas was prior to certain life events happening, so he sees that reflection of himself and wants to protect it so that Johnny doesn't end up like him," Boone says.

Levine—who wrote the musical alongside Adam Rapp and folk duo Jamestown Revival—shares that despite the devastation depicted in The Outsiders, a motivating force in telling the story has been a cultural shift away from constantly looking forward, but closely looking back on who our younger selves were. It's similar to how Dallas finds his former self in Johnny. 

"I feel like we now live in a moment where we're starting to examine why we are the way that we are, and a lot of that is looking at what we now call our inner child. I actually feel like through doing this show, it has brought a lot of that back out for me in a really surprising way," says Levine, who describes The Outsiders as the first book he ever read that he didn't want to put down.

Boone has also long admired The Outsiders as a novel, sharing that it was his favorite book until 11th grade—when he read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. "That's no longer my favorite book either," he notes, stating that The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is his current top pick. But, The Outsiders remains a book that deeply impacted Boone at a young age. "It's the first time I experienced that white people could treat white people the way that white people treated Black people, and it was jarring for me," he says. "So when I was standing next to Brody [Grant, who plays Ponyboy] and he was workshopping another project, he said the name of the musical and I was like, 'Wait, what?!" I hadn't done a musical in years. He pushed me to get information on it. And now I'm standing in front of you."

Joshua Boone Heather Gershonowitz

As they perform each night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Boone hopes that seeing Dallas and his chosen family's journeys onstage will encourage audiences to have more empathy for those around them, and to look out for the outsiders in their own community. 

"Oftentimes these characters are vilified," says Boone. "I desire to keep them grounded, so over the course of the show, people really feel them as human beings...someone who, they hopefully leave the theatre and say, 'Oh, there's a Dally,' and have a different heart towards them."

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