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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 29, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 18
Newsies headline: Great dance show
Arts & Entertainment
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Newsies headline: Great dance show

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

NEWSIES, THE MUSICAL
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Through May 1


Newsies is a true Disney creation. The Tony Award-winning Disney musical is based on the Disney film of the same name. Retelling the true story of the 1899 Newsboys Strike of New York City, the musical brings a historical story to life (in true Disney fashion) through songs and dance.

The story is about an orphan boy (in this case Jack Kelly) who leads the newsboys of New York City on a strike, putting a stop to the greediness of the newspaper giants like Pulitzer and Hearst.

Jack Kelly is the informal leader of a group of newsboys selling papers on the streets for Joe Pulitzer. When Pulitzer raises the prices to boost his profits and give fewer profits to the newsies, the boys decide to go on strike and rebel. Katherine is a reporter who wants to break out of the 'social pages' and tries to help the newsies by writing an article about them and bringing them publicity. After the first confrontation, when Jack's best friend (a boy named 'Crutchie') gets arrested and beaten, the newsies decide to band together and fight back. The results are what brought New York City to a standstill.

Jack Kelly is played by Joey Barreiro, and is perfectly cast for this role. His stage presence is appealing and the accent (the entire cast sounded as if they were extras in Dog Day Afternoon) is stereotypical, but his voice is strong. Morgan Keene plays Katherine, the ambitious reporter and Jack's love interest. Her voice is very good and the audience eye goes directly to her. This may, of course, be because she is one of the very few women in the cast. Ms. Keene sings well and when she takes on the song, 'Watch What Happens,' a patter song interlacing her personal and professional thoughts, she does so with great ease and giving the audience enjoyment.

The real star of Newsies - without a shred of doubt - is the dancing. Christopher Gattelli may have started off as a chorus dancer in CATS, but he has truly found his niche as a choreographer. The group dancing was superb, with boys leaping across the stage, doing high kicks and showing off their impressive skills as only a Broadway dancer can do. The dancing is a huge part of this show and done impressively and beautifully, but the dancing does overshadow the actors' works in every other area of this musical. Knowing that going into the theatre makes the predictability of the storyline easier to overlook.

Newsies is a fun show, good for the family, and typical whitewashed, live-action Disney. The plot isn't difficult to follow but the dancing is the real driving force behind the production either way. Harvey Fierstein's script adaptation is flat, predictable and without surprise. The music (by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Jack Feldman) is good with almost every song being a 'call-to-arms' rousing number, especially the often-repeating theme (otherwise known as the 'Lloyd Webber Syndrome') 'The World Will Know.' The ensemble of the show are all good and they do their job, but typical of Disney 'cuteness,' the 'good buddy' character (in this case a much younger boy named 'Les') is trotted out strictly for the saccharine effect; if the musical were a cartoon and not live-action, this character would be played by a monkey, a parrot or a loveable New York City sewer rat.



Newsies is based on the 1992 Disney live-action movie by the same name. The film was nominated by the 15th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards (and 13th Golden Raspberry Awards) as Worst Picture [of the year], with a Worst Supporting Actress nomination going to Ann-Margret.

The 2012 stage adaptation, however, went on to be nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and won two for Best Original Score (Lyrics by Jack Feldman; Music by Alan Menken) and Best Choreography to Christopher Gattelli.

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