Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Review of ‘Newsies’

newsies 101

With a 1992 Disney movie musical as its source material (in which a young Christian Bale made one of his first splashes), the touring stage version of ‘Newsies’ recently launched its revolution in Schenectady, and its stop at Proctor’s was a high-kicking night of exhilarating dance and Alan Menken-penned music.

While it retains its traditional Disney-esque whitewashing, this version is led by a troop so infectiously engaging and energetic, they manage to inject new life into a drab background. The storyline is a prettified telling of the rough and tumble newspaper-sellers in New York City, circa 1899, who fight and temporarily win better wages and terms for the boys and their system of selling papers.

Originated on Broadway by Jeremy Jordan, lead character Jack Kelly is here played by the charismatic Dan DeLuca, who more than makes the role his own. Kelly must be able to charm and take charge, and DeLuca proves up to the task, conveying angst and amazement at the events that unfold, with a fine voice and the sly earnestness the role requires.

‘Newsies’ is somewhat sorely lacking in female roles, but Stephanie Styles as Katherine and Angela Grovey as Medda Larkin make up for it with show-stopping turns. Chaz Wolcott (of ‘Cats’ fame) is a stand-out hoofer, and all the boys put their best dancing feet forward. In fact, it’s the company’s rousing ‘Seize the Day’ dance sequence that is the centerpiece of the production. Zachary Sayle as Crutchie tugs convincingly, if predictably, at the heartstrings, but the real emotion is elicited from the earnest belief of the ensemble in the material and their talent. Taken as a whole, the troupe becomes a character in and of itself – a moving, inspiring, singing and dancing entity that stirs and shouts and sells itself like its title characters. Does the world really need another musical with singing street urchins? ‘Newsies’ is proof-in-print that it just might.

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