Over the past thirty years this writer has reviewed countless numbers of musicals but only a few have reached the heights of choreographic greatness that is demonstrated in the North American touring production of “Newsies,” now playing at Clowes Memorial Hall. Presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, the show runs through Sunday, March 20.
The 2012 Tony Award® winner with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein was directed by Jeff Calhoun and produced by Disney Theatrical productions. The creator of the aforementioned spectacular dancing was choreographer Christopher Gattelli.
This stage version of 1992 film of the same title is inspired by the newsboy strike of 1899, a true story. It’s about Kid Blink a newsboy who organized and led a rage group of orphans and newsboys against powerful publishers. In the musical, tells the story of Jack Kelley, who, yearning for a better life, organizes the newsboys to strike after William Randolph Hearts and Joseph Pulitzer raise distribution prices.
Joey Barreiro as Jack Kelly turned in a winning performance as the charismatic leader who inspired his peer group of underdogs in a David vs. Goliath story about empowerment and standing up for one’s right against oppression. Barreiro who is graced with a gorgeous voice gave an especially moving performance of Menken and Feldman’s plaintive “Santa Fe.”
Aisha de Haas was commanding in both presence and vocal power as Jack’s friend Medda, the owner of a vaudeville theatre. Her performance of “That’s Rich” was nothing short of explosive.
Also standing out in effective performances were Zachary Sayle as Jack’s physically challenged friend Crutchie; Stephen Michael Langton as Davey and Ethan Steiner as his little brother Les, both newsies; and Kaityn Frank as Jack’s feisty love interest Katherine Plummer, a female reporter who is actually Pulitzer’s daughter.
Though Barreiro was the star of the show, the cadre of triple threat performers who played the newsies were also focal. Leaping, jumping, spinning, and tumbling, the athletic dancers marvelously executed Gattelli’s magnificent hybrid of acrobatic and balletic movement and made it appear effortless.
“Newsies,” with its mix of dynamic performances, engaging story and inspiring social message is ideal for all ages. Upon exiting Clowes this writer was reminded of why there is nothing comparable to live theatre when it comes to entertainment such as that which is all-encompassing in “Newsies”
“Newsies” plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and available in person at Clowes Memorial Hall, the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at BroadwayinIndianapolis.com, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787.