All the songs in 'The Outsiders' on Broadway

S.E. Hinton’s enduring novel about rival teenage gangs in 1960s Oklahoma is now a hit Broadway musical, now up for 12 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Joey Sims
Joey Sims

“Stay gold, Ponyboy.”

The dying wish of Johnny Cade, lovingly imparted to his best friend Ponyboy at the close of S.E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders, has resonated across generations. Hinton’s brutal coming-of-age tale keeps enduring in hearts, minds, and school classrooms decades after it was first published in 1967.

“Stay Gold” is now the fitting title for Johnny’s heart-wrenching 11 o’clock number in the new Outsiders Broadway musical adaptation. As in both the novel and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film adaptation, the story, adapted by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp, follows Ponyboy’s fight for survival as a poor, orphaned Greaser — the name of his teenage gang — in 1960s Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Nominated for 12 Tony Awards including Best Musical, the show boasts a rousing score by folk duo Jamestown Revival and Justin Levine, who also collaborated on lyrics. The creative team told New York Theatre Guide that the music lets the characters, many of whom don't have the words or abilities to express their feelings, convey emotion to the audience.

Learn more about all the songs in The Outsiders, now running at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

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“Tulsa ‘67”

Ponyboy’s first words echo the first line of Hinton’s novel: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home.”

Narrating to the audience in direct address, Ponyboy sets the scene. He and his brothers, Darrel and Patrick “Sodapop” Curtis, are orphans fending for themselves on the working-class East Side of Tulsa. Ponyboy finds community with his gang of “Greasers,” who frequently clash with a rival gang of “Socs” (short for "socialites") from the wealthier side of town, a “fairy tale land” which Ponyboy hardly ever sees.

The week before, Ponyboy’s best friend Johnny Cade was beaten up by a group of Socs. The Greasers live in constant danger, but they stick together, resigned to the way things are: “Ain’t never gonna change – and it really don’t matter if you like it or not.”

“Grease Got A Hold”

As Ponyboy is officially “lubed up” – a ritual of initiation into the Greasers — we meet the other gang members. Sodapop is sweet and popular with the girls; Two-Bit is the jokester of the crew, but also a ferocious fighter; Dallas, their leader, is tough as nails.

When The Outsiders was adapted into a film by legendary director Francis Ford Coppola in 1983, the young cast earned instant popularity and became known as “The Brat Pack.” Rob Lowe played Sodapop, Emilio Estevez took on the role of Two-Bit, and Matt Dillon portrayed Dallas. The cast also included a young Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, and Patrick Swayze, who played Ponyboy’s disapproving older brother, Darrel.

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“Runs in the Family”

Darrel Curtis, protective older sibling to Ponyboy and Sodapop, mourns the life he’d planned before their parents’ death forced him to step up and provide for the family, “stuck between the role of a brother and a father.”

“Great Expectations”

An avid reader, Ponyboy ponders the parallels between Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and his own life, wondering if he has any control over his fate: “Am I playing a role? Part of a story foretold?”

The Greasers, he sings, are each so much more than a label – “under the cover, there’s more.” Does anyone care to look and see Ponyboy for his whole self?

“Friday at the Drive-In”

The Greasers and the Socs descend on the local drive-in on Friday night, all looking to drink, blow off steam, and hit on local girls.

As part of the company’s research for the show, the Broadway cast of The Outsiders visited the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa, where the drive-in scenes were shot for Coppola’s film adaptation.

“I Could Talk To You All Night”

At the drive-in, Ponyboy strikes up an unlikely connection with Soc girl Cherry Valance. The two help each other see Socs and Greasers as complex people, all facing their own troubles and challenges, rather than just two opposing sides in a war. They wonder, in duet: could there ever be “a world beyond the Greasers and the Socs”?

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“Runs in the Family (Reprise)”

When Ponyboy gets home late, Darrel confronts him angrily. In a rage, Darrel wonders if he should just leave Ponyboy and Sodapop to fend for themselves. He strikes Ponyboy after the argument escalates.

“Far Away From Tulsa”

Ponyboy flees home and seeks refuge with Johnny at the local park. Sitting together on the monkey bars, the two imagine escaping together to a better world, a fantasy that exists only in their minds: “Someplace where we can be free, free to decide who we want to be.” They are interrupted by a gang of Socs.

Johnny Cade is played by actor Sky Lakota-Lynch, who earned a Tony nomination for his work. Brody Grant, who plays Ponyboy, is also Tony-nominated for his Broadway debut.

“Run Run Brother”

After Johnny kills a Soc in self-defense, he and Ponyboy find Dallas and ask for help. Dallas says they have to skip town right away, sending them to an abandoned church where they can lay low. Hopping a train, Johnny and Ponyboy flee Tulsa, as Dallas warns: “You’re a Greaser now, and you ain’t going back.”

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“Justice for Tulsa”

Word of the murder spreads across Tulsa. Cops search far and wide for Ponyboy and Johnny. They interrogate Dallas, who blames the Socs, saying “a line got crossed.” Across town, the Socs declare all-out war on the Greasers.

“Death’s At My Door”

Hiding away in the abandoned church, Ponyboy wonders if there’s any way they’ll survive. Johnny insists they will and find a reason to go on, so long as they stick together: “Even if death tags along, I don’t mind, it’s still you and me.”

“Throwing in the Towel”

Darrel laments his failures as an older brother to Sodapop: “I lost our brother, and I lost my way.” Sodapop assures Darrel that he’s the only thing still holding their family together. They have to stick together, he insists, and get Ponyboy home.

“Soda’s Letter”

In a sweet, simply written letter, Sodapop tells Ponyboy he’s deeply missed: “Ponyboy, this house ain’t a home without you.”

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“Hoods Turned Heroes”

Ponyboy and Johnny become local heroes after rushing into a fire at the abandoned church to rescue a group of schoolchildren. Sodapop and Two-Bit sing of their astonishment at seeing two Greasers in the paper for a happy reason: “Is Tulsa finally gonna see?” Johnny, however, is horribly injured during the rescue.

“Hopeless War”

Cherry begs Ponyboy to stay away from the upcoming rumble — a battle between the Greasers and Socs — calling it a “hopeless war.” Ponyboy refuses, insisting he can’t sit out this fight.

“Trouble”

This song is the build-up to the rumble. Darrel asks Ponyboy to stay away; he again refuses and rallies the Greasers, yelling: “Do it for Johnny!”

In Danya Taymor’s visceral Broadway staging, the rumble that follows features no music. The only noise is the sounds of grunts, moans, and wails of pain as a mess of bodies collide in brutally, impeccably choreographed chaos.

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“Little Brother”

The Greasers win the rumble, but when Dallas and Ponyboy return to Johnny’s side to tell him, they find his condition has worsened. After imploring Ponyboy to “Stay gold,” Johnny dies.

Devastated by the loss, Dallas blames himself, lamenting his failure to protect Johnny: “If I ain’t got you, then I ain’t got nothin’ else.” Unable to live with himself, Dallas steps in front of a train.

“Stay Gold”

Devastated and speechless following the loss of Johnny and Dallas, Ponyboy is visited by Cherry, who gives him a letter Johnny wrote before his death. We hear the letter in song, in which Johnny urges Ponyboy to keep living and hold onto his purity: “I’d do it all again ‘cause I’ve found beauty in the fold.”

“Finale (Tulsa ‘67)”

Inspired by Johnny’s letter, Ponyboy pushes forward. He reconciles with Darrel and begins to write down his story – the story he’s been telling us. In Johnny’s memory, Ponyboy pledges to “stay gold.”

Get The Outsiders tickets now.

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Photo credit: The Outsiders on Broadway. (Photos by Matthew Murphy)

Originally published on

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