What happens when a greedy newspaper mogul exploits a pack of ragtag newsboys? They make the front page and become major news!
In this quintessential David vs. Goliath story – a group of young men take on publishing giant, Joseph Pulitzer, after he raises the price of their “papes” to increase profits. Disney’s Newsies was inspired by the real-life newsboy strike of 1899, which forced publications like Pulitzer’s the World and William Randall Hearst’s the Journal to change how their paperboys were compensated. Talk about bad press.
On a quiet rooftop is where we first meet Jack Kelly (Alex Prakken) and his best pal, Crutchie (Austyn Myers). The opening prologue tells us about Jack’s dream to leave his small life in the big city for a big life in a small town.
Three years ago, Prakken understudied the part of Jack Kelly on the 1st national tour of Newsies, but now assumes the central role in McCoy Rigby’s all-new production. Armed with moxie, swagger and intensity, Prakken’s rendition of “Santa Fe” is one for the books.
Rounding out the cast of plucky newspaper hawkers are Davey (Josey Montana McCoy), his little brother Les (Travis Burnett), Romeo (Andre Darnell Myers), Henry (Vinnie Smith), Race (Michael James), Darcy/Mush (Samuel Shea), Finch (Kyle Goleman), Albert (Steven Adam Agdeppa), Specs (Brandon Scott Halvorsen), Elmer (Zach Bez), Buttons (Jesse Graham), Jo Jo (Tanner Richins), Tommy Boy (David Smith) and Sniper (Nate Odell). The athleticism each brought to the La Mirada stage was simply astonishing!
Unfortunately, Pulitzer (Paul Schoeffler) continues to use scare tactics until the lads show him what “stop the presses” really mean with help from journalist Katherine Plumber (Beth Stafford Laird), who has a lot at stake herself. Laird also appeared in the national tour and absolutely delights in her solo “Watch Watch Happens” and duet “Something to Believe in.”
Luckily, Jack does have some friends in high places like Governor Roosevelt (John Massey), who goes head-to-head with Pulitzer and cabaret-owner Medda Larkin (Daebreon Poiema). Both deserve accolades for their scene-stealing performances.
The musical, featuring a book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldmen deliver an array of toe-tapping tunes. Here, musical director Brent Crayon recreate the gorgeous score and inspiring anthems like “The World Will Know,” “Once and For All” and the crowd-pleasing “Seize the Day.”
Director and choreographer Richard J. Hinds handles both the mounting of this epic production and the creation of the high-energy dance routines with complete victory. Like West Side Story, each backflip, pirouette, high kick and split jump become an instrumental part to the story.
Newsies is by far one of Disney’s best commercial achievements, next to The Lion King and now Frozen. The story embodies the spirit of youth and harps a positive message of equality. You will feel uplifted and exhilarated by curtain call, unless your last name is Pulitzer or Hearst.
Disney’s Newsies is playing at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts now thru June 24, 2018. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310 or Order Online.
Photos courtesy of Jason Niedle