I was rewatching Newsies Live today, and I couldn’t help but appreciate how Davey’s outfits reflect how he assimilates as a Newsie.
I mean, in Act 1, David is dressed as best as he can probably afford. He wears a tie, his vest is buttoned up, and his appearance as a whole is much more proper looking than the others.
Even Les looks more like a newsie than Davey- which makes sense. Les wastes no time in making friends with Jack and the others, while Davey is much more reserved. Davey informs Les early on that they’re only there until their father gets better, and they’re only selling in the first place because they need the money. The only newsie who stands out as much as Davey is Jack, for obvious reasons.
This helps later on in the act (starting with The World Will Know) by establishing Davey as a leader, but it also serves to remind us that Davey has a family- something the other newsies aren’t as fortunate to have. Just look at him next to some of the other boys.
However, once Act 2 comes around, we see a change in Davey’s wardrobe.
He starts wearing plaid, a pattern worn by many of the other Newsies (Race being probably the most popular example). His top buttons are also undone, something Act 1 Davey would not have stood for.
However, the most significant difference is that he has ditched the tie and unbuttoned his vest. He’s still distinguished enough from the ensemble so that you can pick him out easily, but that’s more due to the blue in his shirt than the way he presents himself. It’s also worth nothing that his hair appears to be messier in Act 2 (but that can also be chalked up to Ben having been on stage for a long time and just being sweaty and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Davey as a character).
At the rally, the blue in his shirt is a similar shade to the blue Jack wears, highlighting his status as a leader. Most of the newsies wear very muted colors. Even Race, who is Jack’s number 2, wears blue, but it’s not quite as prominent. The other obvious costume choice is having the Brooklyn Newsies in bright red, showing their contrast with Manhattan.
Unlike in Act 1, where there was very much an equal partnership between Jack and Davey, in Act 2, Davey has taken over as leader while Jack is worrying about Crutchie.
He looks like he fits in so much better with the other newsies. In King of New York, a number where Davey doesn’t have much focus, he blends in very well with the ensemble, to the point where it can be easy to forget that he’s in that number.
Davey’s wardrobe undergoes an adjustment between Acts 1 and 2, which highlights not only his leadership status as the show progresses, but also his commitment to the strike and how he begins to see the newsies as his friends and family instead of just co-workers.