What happens when a greedy newspaper mogul tries to take advantage of a group of ragtag newsboys? They make headlines, that’s what! Disney’s Newsies danced it’s way to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Tuesday, May 17th to the delights of all the Fansies (Newsies fans) who were in attendance.
In this quintessential David vs Goliath story; A group of young newsboys takes on publishing giant, Joseph Pulitzer, after he hikes up pricing for their inventory of “papes.” Based on the 1992 movie directed by Kenny Ortega (Hocus Pocus and High School Musical), Newsies recounts the true story of the newsboy strike of 1899, which eventually forced newspaper publishing houses to change the way they compensated their delivery boys.
On a quiet rooftop is where we first meet Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro) and his best pal, Crutchie (Andy Richardson). The young men dream about heading west to Santa Fe, where they believe life will be much easier in lieu of the rough streets of New York City.
Joey Barreiro has the right amount of tenacity and swagger to play the newsboys’ fearless leader, Jack Kelly. Alongside Barreiro is Andy Richardson, who plays his wide-eyed and impressionable sidekick, Cruthie. Richardson recently joined the national tour after previously playing the role in the Broadway company.
We’re next introduced to an array of plucky newspaper hawkers including Davey (Stephen Michael Langton), his little brother Les (Ethan Steiner), Romeo (Nico DeJesus), Scab (Michael Dameski), Albert (Sky Flaherty), Darcy (Joshua Burrage) and Roosevelt (Kevin Carolan) to name a few.
The impressive cast of multi-talented performers each deserved the standing ovation they received for their incredible athleticism, highlighted on stage. It makes my legs ache simply watching every high kick, pirouette, and split jump featured in the rousing, high-energy routines.
Steven Blanchard takes on the role of newspaper tycoon, Joseph Pulitzer. Blanchard does a fine job balancing conniving with subtle humor as his cut-throat antics for the newsboys is outlined in the song “The Bottom Line.” Rounding out the cast is Morgan Keene, who plays reporter Katherine Plummer and cabaret singer/scene stealer, Medda Larkin (Aisha de Haas), who gleams in her solo, “That’s Rich.”
Composer, Alan Menken and lyricist, Jack Feldman deliver an assortment of foot-tapping songs throughout the musical spectacle. Act II also features a newly penned song called “Letters from the Refuge,” which was specifically written for the touring production. Besides his previous work in such beloved Disney classics as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast and Aladdin, undoubtedly, Newsies is some of Menken’s greatest work. From the sugary ballad, “Something to Believe in” to the inspiring anthem, “Once and For All” each of the songs worked cohesively together.
Tony-Award winning choreographer, Christopher Gattelli is the mastermind behind the meticulously, synchronized dance routines incorporating gymnastics, ballet, jazz and tap dexterously performed by the sizable cast of 30 +. Not since West Side Story has there been a show, where dance has become such an instrumental part of the storytelling process.
Tobin Ost’s set design focused around three industrial steel towers, which resembled scaffolding and glided around stage effortlessly to house the performers during large dance sequences. To aide the story were projections designed by Sven Ortel, which depicts everything from the New York City skyline to the headlines these newsboys caused by the strike.
Newsies is by far one of Disney’s best theatrical productions (next to The Lion King). Believe me, this touring company delivers something special. The show embodies the spirit of these youth, who fought to be heard. You will feel inspired and invigorated by the end of the show. I urge everyone to check out Newsies before the tour ends later in the year.
Disney’s Newsies is playing at the Segerstrom Center now thru May 29th. Tickets are available by calling (714)-556-2787 or ONLINE or by visiting the Segerstrom box office. Ticket prices start at $25. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.