Crutchie is an eternal optimist. Despite his many hard knocks, he remains so positive and a true symbol of hope. That being said, my Crutchie is a bit of a departure from what I think a lot of people are expecting from the crippled newsboy. He’s not this super sweet, fragile boy. Historically, these boys were a lot more hardened by their poverty and lifestyle. So despite his handicap, he tries to be a real tough guy and wise-cracker. While I think it’s easier to play him as precious and sympathetic, I think it’s more rewarding for the audience to see someone trying to uphold this tough exterior until his surface cracks and he truly needs help.
Andrew Keenan-Bolger on Crutchie, from this DIS unplugged interview.
Playing a handicapped character has made me far more aware of the world around me. Navigating our epic set was such a challenge with only one leg and it helped me realize how much I take for granted. A stereotype in our society (that admittedly I held, to a certain degree) was to immediately pity someone with a disability. But playing a handicapped character as thick skinned and self-actualized as Crutchie, I realized how truly strong you have to be to live in this world. I honestly felt a shift. While I’m still sympathetic, what I feel far more is pride. It takes a lot of courage to negotiate daily routines and I have such a deep respect for the many who does so.
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, from this Examiner interview