The hype had been mounting about the sensational “Newsies” soon coming to The National Theatre June 9 – 21st. Its arrival was indeed a hit. As Newsies was based on a 1992 Disney film, the crowd included many nicely dressed children who were excited to visit the theatre. If Disney Theatrical Sponsorship isn’t enough, it might be notable to mention that Newsies won a Tony on Broadway.
The curtains open to a rooftop where two boys, Crutchie (Zachary Sayle) and Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca) sit talking about their dreams. Jack wants to move to Santa Fe to have a big life in a small town instead of a small one in the big New York City. Jack invites Crutchie to move with him as considers Crutchie to be his family, as most of the news paper delivery boys are orphans living on the street. All of the newsboys are quite fond of Crutchie and Jack who are the best sellers of “The World” newspaper and help take care of them.
As the boys become upset about the 3rd week of the Trolley Strike not being big enough news to sell newspapers (or earn money to eat), they encounter a bigger problem threatening their earnings. Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of the paper has just raised the cost of the newspapers for the newsboys. New paperboy Davey (Jacob Kemp) and his little brother Les (Vincent Crocilla played the role when I saw it. He shares the role with Anthony Rosenthal) are very upset as they need to work to support their family while their father is injured.
As if their troubles aren’t big enough, Warden Snyder of the juvenile detention refuge is trying to capture all the boys. They run in to Medda Larkin’s (Angela Grovey) theatre to hide. Jack is a very talented artist. He had painted Medda’s backdrops. Jack notices a girl writing for “The Sun” newspaper in the stands and falls instantly in love with Katherine (Stephanie Styles). She isn’t interested in him at first, but he wins her over with a lovely sketch that he does of her. (Which is actually beautifully projected on the set, as he is drawing it.)
Jack and Davey organize a protest over the paper increase, while singing “The World Will Know” as Crutchie declares “The things we do today will be tomorrow’s news”. Katherine decides to cover the protest in order to become a more successful reporter, as her interest in Jack increases. The strike also gains power as more and more paperboys from other districts join in the strike. The story builds to a wonderful suspenseful climax with a surprise ending that must be kept secret.
The musical was actually inspired by the Newsboys 1899 strike in New York City. This is a wonderful social justice theme for children to learn about. The phenomenal music by Alan Menken and Lyrics by Jack Feldman really build the story to an amazing climax. The set design by Tobin Ost is incredible. The metal scaffolds twist and transform to become new interior and exterior buildings.
The choreography by Christopher Gattelli is amazing. The boys flip and spin and jump with incredible energy. Often they are synchronized, or small groups take turns doing different dance steps. But synchronized or not, the stage comes alive with dance. The set is well used during the dancing and the props, such as the paper bags or newspapers are often danced with, on, or flung around while dancing. One notable dance even had the boys dancing on papers while ripping them in half with their feet. Another fabulous performance featured tap dancing and playing the spoons.
I highly recommend seeing “Newsies” with your whole family. The energy, music, dancing, singing and amazing storyline with a surprise ending is well worth seeing.
FINAL GRADE: A