Extra! Extra read all about it! NEWSIES, playing at the Moonlight Amphitheatre through Saturday, August 4th is a high energy, song and dance filled evening that has the audience leaving while humming a tune and doing a dance to their vehicles.
NEWSIES can be a difficult show to get right; after all the actors have to have winning personalities, the dancing is high energy, technical, has to look effortless and runs from the start of the show through the closing bows, all while singing a challenging and high score. Seriously, these vocals are no joke, and this cast brings some great harmonies to the table; all while leaping, tap dancing, and pirouetting.
This musical is based on the musical movie of the same name from 1992 about the newsboys strike of 1899 the show opens with Jack Kelly (Dillon Klena) and his friend Crutchie (Austyn Myers) dreaming of a future in a new city with better opportunities like that far off land of “Santa Fe.”
But all too soon the real world crashes in when they meet two brothers, Davey (Scott Arnold) and Les (Noah Baird) who have become newsies to help support the family while their father is out of work. But when the newspaper magnate Joseph Pultizer (Hank Stratton) raises the costs of the World newspapers for the newsies to sell, that is a bridge too far and they take a stand. Helped by a talented and lovely reporter Katherine (Kataharine McDonough), and songstress Medda (Shirley Johnston) the kids all come together to show Pulitzer that just because he owns the World, they aren’t going to let him run it.
Klena has the charm, the charisma, and the voice for this incorrigible Jack Kelly, leader of this merry band. He has a strong voice that is suited to both the up-tempo songs and to the more contemplative moments like “Santa Fe.”
McDounough as Katherine stands out not only for her lovely voice, or for being one of the few main girls in this ensemble, but for her plucky portrayal of a woman following her dreams and willing to fight for what she wants. Johnston also adds to the lady star power of the show as burlesque queen Medda who has her own audience pleasing number with ‘That’s Rich.”
Other standouts were Klena as Davey, the brains behind Jack’s bravado, Myers as Crutchie the loyal friend with a limp, and Baird as the wisecracking, paper selling prodigy Les. Stratton is appropriately devious and dastardly as the bad guy Pulitzer.
The choreography by Karl Warden is sharp, energetic, and superb as it showcases the precision and many talents of the 38 person cast of this show. “Seize The Day” is always a crowd pleaser, but tap, jazz, ballet, and gymnastics are peppered throughout the show in numbers like “”Once and For All,” “King of New York”, and “Carrying The Banner.” This ensemble starts dancing at the start of the show and doesn’t stop until after the final bows. There are even 10 youth ensemble members, and they just as talented and filled with seemingly endless energy as the rest of the cast to be able to keep up this impressive performance pace.
I would gladly carry the banner for this show, but my tap dancing is rusty and my pirouettes aren’t that good, so I think I’ll stick the writing portion of the journalism business.
NEWSIES is closing this weekend, so hurry and go “Seize the Day” and see the shoe before it closes “Once and For All.”
For ticket and showtime information go to www.moonlightstage.com