The Outsiders - SYNOPSIS

2024 Broadway
The Outsiders the Musical - SYNOPSIS

Act 1

Ponyboy Curtis, aged 14, is writing in a notebook, when he begins to introduce the world of the show — Tulsa in 1967. He introduces his eldest brother Darrel who used to be a football star with "a ticket out," and his middle brother Sodapop, who recently had his heart broken. He introduces the Greasers, the more gritty, grounded counterparts to the Socs who "live like socialites." He specifically points out his best friend, Greaser Johnny Cade, who was recently jumped by Socs ("Tulsa, '67").

Ponyboy is jumped by the same Socs who attacked Johnny, led by their ringleader Bob. The Socs attempt to cut Ponyboy's hair to make him look like a Soc, Ponyboy bites one of them, and then goes unconscious. He wakes up to his brothers cleaning him up. The other Greasers — led by Dally, who just got out of county lockup — tell Ponyboy that he has officially become a Greaser, having gotten through this experience and come out the other end. Darrel worries that Ponyboy is making an irresponsible choice in cementing himself as a Greaser, but Dally makes it official anyway ("Grease Got a Hold").

Darrel is at home folding laundry, reflecting on his role as a pseudo-father to his younger brothers after their parents recently died in a car accident ("Runs in the Family"). Ponyboy comes home and asks Darrel if he can go to the drive-in with Johnny, Two-Bit, and Dally. Darrel agrees, as long as Ponyboy stays careful and isn't late for curfew. Ponyboy and Sodapop discuss how Darrel's in a hard place right now, and Ponyboy asks his brother if, like himself, he dreams about his parents' accident. Sodapop says no, before asking Ponyboy about the book he's reading. Ponyboy and Sodapop reflect on the similarities they each see in the characters in the book "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. After Sodapop goes to sleep, Ponyboy keeps reading and following this train of thought ("Great Expectations").

Meanwhile, Dally finds Johnny outside his house, with sounds of intense arguing from inside. After it becomes clear this has happened before, Johnny tells Dally that he stays at home because he's scared his father will kill his mother. Dally offers to go inside the house himself, but Johnny doesn't let him. Dally gives Johnny a cigarette for warmth, a Hershey Bar, and a knife, which he teaches Johnny how to use.

The next day, Dally, Johnny, and Ponyboy all go to the drive-in, which is full of Socs. There, they meet Sherri "Cherry" Valance ("Friday at the Drive-in"). Dally keeps hitting on Cherry, claiming she's "not as innocent" as she may seem. Johnny tries to stop him. After Dally leaves, Cherry and her friend Marcia invite Ponyboy and Johnny to sit with them, before eventually asking Ponyboy to escort her to the concession stand. There, the two begin talking and realize that the other isn't exactly as stereotypes led them to believe — Cherry is dealing with fighting and demanding parents, and Ponyboy likes books and watching the sky change colors as the sun sets ("I Could Talk to You All Night").

Bob, Cherry's boyfriend, tries to tell Cherry to not talk to Greasers, leading to an altercation between the two groups. Cherry stops them from fighting, but breaks up with Bob in doing so. Bob — who is clearly drunk — threatens Ponyboy. Cherry tells Ponyboy to not take it the wrong way if she doesn't say hello to him at school. Ponyboy and Johnny arrive at the Curtis home, late for curfew. Darrel gets upset, and Ponyboy fights back. As tensions escalate, Darrel slaps Ponyboy ("Runs in the Family" (reprise)). Ponyboy and Johnny run away. They sit and contemplate what could be next for them, dreaming of running far away ("Far Away From Tulsa").

Ponyboy and Johnny are stopped by the Socs, led by Bob. A fight breaks out, and it escalates quickly. The Socs attempt to drown Ponyboy, but before they can finish the job, Johnny stabs Bob with the knife Dally gave him, killing the Soc. Ponyboy and Johnny run to Dally, who gives them money and instructions to an abandoned church where they can hide for the time being, and Ponyboy and Johnny do as they're told ("Run Run Brother").

Act 2

In Tulsa, the Socs and police are searching for Ponyboy and Johnny, who the Socs told the police were responsible for Bob's death. At the abandoned church, Ponyboy and Johnny see their photos in the newspaper, and decide that Ponyboy needs to cut and bleach his hair in order to make him less recognizable. Darrel and Sodapop are interrogated about what they know or who they know that might know more, with the police singling out Dally as a specific person of interest. Cherry mourns her boyfriend, but acknowledges that he and his friends have made some bad choices ("Justice for Tulsa").

Dally tells Darrel and Sodapop that no one will find Ponyboy and Johnny, but Darrel blames Dally for being a bad influence on the two boys. Dally counters that he spends more time with Ponyboy than Darrel, his own brother. Sodapop stops the fighting before it can escalate more, but Dally walks away angry. Meanwhile, at the church, Ponyboy reflects on how he feels that he brings death and bad luck to others, and that Johnny should just leave him at the church and run away on his own. Johnny refuses, saying he will stick by Ponyboy no matter what ("Death's at My Door"). Back at the Curtis house, Darrel worries that he will never be able to help Ponyboy, and contemplates giving up. Sodapop reminds him that they don't give up on family. Ponyboy reflects on this from the church, on his own ("Throwing in the Towel").

Ponyboy recites a poem ("Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost) to Johnny, as they watch the sunrise. Dally arrives at the church, and tells Ponyboy and Johnny that there are kids at the church having a field trip or picnic of some kind. He gives Ponyboy a letter from Sodapop (really, both of his brothers, just signed by Sodapop) about how the house isn't complete without Ponyboy ("Soda's Letter"). Johnny decides he wants to return to Tulsa and turn himself in. Dally is adamant that this is a bad idea, telling the boys that it's always better to run away from trouble like he did, going from town to town. He also reveals that the Socs and Greasers' rivalry has only worsened, and that there will soon be a rumble. The winner gets control over the park. During this conversation, Ponyboy throws a cigarette he's finished with on the ground behind him.

Dally tells Ponyboy and Johnny that he is going to drive them to Iowa where someone is going to take them in. Before they can leave, though, the church catches on fire from the cigarette Ponyboy threw away. Ponyboy and Johnny run into the flames in order to rescue the kids Dally had mentioned earlier, turning them into local heroes back in Tulsa — where they return ("Hoods Turned Heroes"). Ponyboy ends up not badly injured, but a beam fell on Johnny's back, and he can no longer feel his legs. Dally says he will not be holding back at the rumble. Cherry comes to the hospital room, and tells Ponyboy that she just learned that both he and Johnny were cleared of all murder charges. She begs Ponyboy to not fight in the upcoming rumble ("Hopeless War").

Ponyboy feels he has to fight for Johnny, and joins the Greasers in preparing for the rumble. Darrel shows up, ready to fight, and asks Ponyboy to let him fight on his behalf. Ponyboy still refuses, and all three Curtis brothers prepare to fight in the rumble ("Trouble"). Darrel and Paul — once best friends, now rivals — start fighting one-on-one, before everyone breaks out into an all-out fight. The Greasers and Socs brutally fight one another in the pouring rain, and eventually the Greasers win. They go visit Johnny in the hospital after the fight. Johnny tells Ponyboy to "stay gold," and then dies. All the Greasers become emotional, but Dally in particular. He snaps at his friends, before storming out. He runs to the train tracks — Ponyboy narrates that he's so fast, no one can catch him — and lets himself get hit by an oncoming train, killing him ("Little Brother").

Ponyboy is distraught, not speaking, and staring at the television while his brothers try to help him. They reveal he's been like that for two weeks. Ponyboy and Darrel fight, but Sodapop stops them. Cherry then stops by, revealing she started volunteering at the hospital. She found a pile of Johnny's clothes, and thought Ponyboy should have them. She tells Ponyboy that Johnny left a note for him in one of his pockets. The note — which Sodapop reads to Ponyboy, as Ponyboy is too emotional to even open it — reveals that Johnny had time to think before he died (which he knew was coming), and that he understands the meaning of "Nothing Gold Can Stay," which neither of them were sure the meaning of back at the church. He again tells Ponyboy to "stay gold," and asks him to remind Dally of the good in the world ("Stay Gold").

Ponyboy tells Darrel and Sodapop that while he loves being a Greaser, that's not all there is to him, which both of his brothers accept. Ponyboy sits down to eat dinner with the two of them. Sodapop asks him about what he was writing in his notebook before (after reading the note, before coming to dinner), and Ponyboy says Tulsa, and the things that go on there. Darrel and Sodapop want to read it, but Ponyboy is self-conscious about it. Eventually, Darrel reads it out loud, revealing it to be the opening narration to "The Outsiders" novel (Finale ("Tulsa '67")).

Review: The Outsiders the Musical Lyrics