Highly Recommended **** They are back! Disney’s “Newsies”, the musical, based on the Disney film of the same name, has returned to Chicago. This wonderful, uplifting story with a book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, is an amazing story of youth conquering “Big Business” back at the turn of the century (not this one, the last). The “Newsies” were the paperboys, who each moring would purchase a bale of papers, then hit the streets and sell them so they could recoup their investment and hopefully have a profit. The inspiration for the movie, which later became this musical was the actual “newsboy strike of 1899”, when a newsboy, Kid Blank, led a band of orphan and runaway “newsies” on an action against the powerhouse newspaper publishers including Pulitzer and Hearst.
In this version, Kid Blank becomes Jack Kelly (a dynamite performance by Joey Barreiro), who is a dreamer of sorts, an artists, who dreams of having a life of beauty and art. It turns out that he is brighter than he might appear to be and just so it doesn’t seem strange, the “Newsies” are not all little boys. Jack is probably somewhere around 20ish. His best friend , Crutchie (deftly handled by Andy Richardson) is probably the only newsie that doesn’t dance from the start. All of the boys ( I say that loosely) are highly energetic as they dance and tumble making every major dance number an entertainment experience on its own merit. Choreographer Christopher Gattelli has truly created some wonderful numbers. In fact, the end of the first act number, “Seize The Day” is worth the price of the ticket alone. Yet, he starts the second act with a marvelous tap number that will have you tapping your toes, even if you can’t dance a lick.
The whole situation begins one morning when publisher Joseph Pulitzer decides that to increase circulation, all he need do is raise their cost, forcing them to sell more papers. A newcomer Davey (solid work by Stephen Michael Langton) and his little brother, Les (tonight the adorable Turner Birthisel/alternate Ethan Steiner), who are coming on board because their dad has been laid off, present the idea of a “union” to make the world see what is happening. Jack takes the bull by the horns and becomes the leader. Meanwhile, a young reporter , Katherine ( the lovely Morgan Keene, who has a tremendous range and can kick up her heels as well) gets involved with the boys (in particular, with Jack). Later, we learn a great deal more about her and her life.
This ensemble is what makes this show as brilliant as it is-Daniel Switzer, Sky Flaherty, Jordan Samuels, Michael Rios, Iain Young, Julian DeGuzman, Nicholas Masson and Joshua Burrage round out the “boys” ( I hope they are all listed, as they are well deserving. Bravo! The rest of the ensemble and the men who play the big business tycoons are all solid. In particular, Kevin Carolan who does a great Teddy Roosevelt as well as Eric Jon Mahlum and Stephen Hernandez who stepped into other roles for tonight’s performance. The show has been here before, and as usual, people always ask me why I would attend again, and review again. The answer is very simple. Live theater is just that, live, which means every performance will be different as will each cast change. I truly enjoyed the show previously, but found myself enjoying it even more tonight.
This production of “Newsies” will continue at The Cadillac Palace Theatre located at 151 West Randolph Street through August 7th with performances as follows:
Sundays 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from$35-$100 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago Theater box offices, by calling the Broadway Ticketline at 800-775-2000 or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com, where you can also find discount parking.
“Newsies” has developed a sort of cult following, so to learn more, visit www.NewsiesTheMusical.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Newsies”