There are musicals that are constructed to have fabulous singing and dancing with the sole purpose to entertain the audience. Some succeed and some fail miserably. I am very happy to say that Disney's Newsies is masterfully successful on every level as it embodies the finest of musicals past while showcasing the most talented performers of today.
Though I saw last tour that came through Chicago during the winter, this new touring company NEWSIES directed by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun triumphantly exceeds last year's production in many ways.
Newsies is based on a true story during the turn of the century in 1899 where New York newsboys, lead by Jack Kelly, who go on strike against big-time publishers Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst and other big-time publishing moguls. The powerful musical score by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken with lyrics by Jack Feldman and choreography Christopher Gattelli are integral to the success of NEWSIES which bring a dynamic energy to this amazing story and show. This also builds to its excitement. The combined voices and harmonies are sensational and literally give you goose-bumps. The choreography complete with gymnastic flips and synchronization is absolutely outstanding.
The ensemble cast is very tightly woven and very well rehearsed. Joey Barreiro (Jack Kelly), who plays the Newsies' leader, has a wonderful voice which is tough and sweet. Andy Richardson (Crutchy), is Jack's friend who is more of a brother, which creates a wonderful chemistry between the two young men. Steve Blanchard (Joseph Pulitzer), gives a rousing performance of the powerful publisher who is more interested in making big profits rather than looking at the welfare of his employees. Morgan Keene (Katherine), is the newspaper writer who is pursuing the story along with falling in love with Jack. Morgan has a beautiful voice which creates wonderful harmonies with Joey Barreiro. Stephen Michael Langdon (Davey) and Turner Birthisel (Les), are brothers who come in to work as newsies to support their unemployed father and family. Both actors are very talented singers and dancers. It always amazes me to see the talent and stamina of a 9 year old. Turner Birthisel did not disappoint. He kept up with the entire cast and really brought a fresh performance to NEWSIES. Aisha De Haas (Medda Larkin) who plays Jack's friend, who owns a burlesque theatre. Aisha, who is no stranger to the stage, has a fabulous voice filled with a saucy vamp. The remaining chorus of dancers and singers are outstanding. Their beautiful harmonies and musical blending along with synchronized acrobatic dancing brings gusto and life to Newsies.
The youthful cast brings joy to each performance with rousing applause, cheers for each musical and dance number, with standing ovations. Newsies is a MUST SEE in every sense of the word. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the entire family.
The Broadway in Chicago production of Newsies is appearing at the Cadillac Theatre 151 West Randolph Street for a limited engagement through Sunday, August 7. Tickets are available through the Ticket line 800-775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations, and all Broadway in Chicago Box Offices, (24 W. Randolph St, 151 W. Randolph ST. 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 East Chestnut St.), and on line www.BroadwayInChicago.com
REVIEWED BY: RUSSELL GOELTENBODT