Reviewed by Kevin Pollack
“Now is the time to seize the day” are the very lyrics that stay true to today in Marriott’s daring production of Disney’s Newsies. With music by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) and book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Kinky Boots), this recent Broadway smash is a high-energy musical thrill for the whole family! Inspired by the real-life New York City Newsboy Strike of 1899, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when the newspaper publishing titans raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to fight them.
Brought to life by director and choreographer Alex Sanchez, this in-the-round staged Newsies seemed a little off-balance overall, but the talent came in full. Leading actors Patrick Rooney (Jack Kelly), Eliza Palasz (Katherine), Kevin Gudahl (Joseph Pulitzer), Stephanie Pope (Medda Larkin), Nick Graffagna (Davey), Carter Graf (Les) and Matthew Uzarraga (Crutchie) were all outstanding singers and actors in their own right, as was the fantastic ensemble performers including some much needed female newsies played by Laura Savage (JoJo, Nun, Dance Captain) and Adrienne Storrs (Buttons, Nun). The way they were included in the ensemble was a very smart idea, bring on women empowerment and shows that women can fit into an all-male ensemble and still have the original story ring true. The tight ensemble included Bill Bannon (Snyder), Eean Cochran (Mush), Shea Coffman (Oscar Delancey), Nicholas Dantes (Specs), Alejandro Fonseca (Romeo), Sam Griffin (Henry), Garrett Lutz (Albert, Bill), Jeff Pierpoint (Darcy), Zachary Porter (Race), Liam Quealy (Morris Delancey), James Rank (Nunzio, Governor Roosevelt), Peter Sipla (Seitz), Jonny Stein (Spot Conlon), Steven Strafford (Wiesel, Stage Manager, Mr. Jacobi, Mayor), Richard Strimer (Bunsen), Martin Ortiz Tapia (Tommy Boy), Tiffany Tatreau (Hannah, Nun), Andy Tofa (Finch) and David Wright Jr. (Elmer).
After seeing the movie, the 1st National Tour of Newies and the big-screen version of the musical, I was a little skeptical of how they can beat out the experience of seeing the incredibly-sized ensemble, massive sets and eye-popping choreographer, but for what it’s worth, you should still head on over to the Marriott Theatre to see this show. It’s definitely a family show.
My only problem with the show was that the choreography is one of the biggest aspects of this show, and I think there could have been more. As I said earlier, the women being included definitely helped, but I left wanting more. The singing, as I said earlier, was fantastic. I also noticed that Sanchez cast the leads a little younger, but that didn’t bother me, but for what it’s worth, you should still head on over to the Marriott Theatre to see this show. It’s definitely a family show.
Expect to hear some of your favorite songs from the movie including “Santa Fe,” “Carrying the Banner,” “Once and For All,” “King of New York,” “The World Will Know” and “Seize the Day.” There are also some great new songs like Katherine’s funny song, “Watch What Happens,” Crutchie’s heartfelt song, “Letter from the Refuge” and Jack and Katherine’s beautiful duet “Something to Believe In.”
Overall, if you’re a Disney fan and you loved the Newsies movie, then head on over to the Marriott Theatre for some great family fun! You’ll be sure to be singing a tune or two on the way out as well.
Newsies is running thru December 17th. You can get tickets at www.marriotttheatre.com
The show runs approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.