by Lana Rotan
As we inch our way toward the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 10, here is another review of a Tony Award nominee!
When my sisters and I planned our trip to New York City a couple months ago, my first trip there ever, the first thing we did after booking our plane tickets was book our tickets to Newsies on Broadway.
As a Reedley College student, I have lived in Reedley all my life and have performed in and watched various local theatre productions since I was eight years old. This experience and interest in theatre only increased my excitement about seeing this show. To say the least, Newsies did not disappoint.
Fans of the Disney movie Newsies will be delighted to hear the cult classic has finally become a stage show! After many years of discussion (the movie premiered in 1992), composers Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and playwright Harvey Fierstein teamed up to transform this movie into a stage production. Newsies tells the true story of a group of turn-of-the-century newsboys in New York City working for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, The World. When Pulitzer decides to raise the price of his papers to make more money, the newsies go on strike because they can barely afford to feed themselves as is. The gang is led by the “handsome, heroically charismatic, plainspoken, know-nothing, skirt chasing, cocky” Jack Kelly, as he is described by his counterpart. Jack Kelly is played by Jeremy Jordan in the show, previously seen alongside Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in the recent movie Joyful Noise. Jack leads the newsies to rebel against Pulitzer and turn their story into that of a real life David and Goliath.
Fans of the movie will be surprised to find that Bryan Denton, the male reporter, has been replaced in the show by a female reporter, Katherine Plummer, played by Kara Lindsay. In the movie, Jack’s love interest is a fellow newsie’s sister, Sarah. In Fierstein’s version, Jack and Katherine provide the romance and Sarah no longer exists. Another deviation from the movie is that instead of Jack dreaming of becoming a cowboy, he dreams of becoming an artist. Having seen both, I can say with confidence the reporter acting as the love interest fits into the story better than the sister, who appeared out of place. The presentation of a female lead also brings some estrogen into a heavily male dominated show. Although many lyrics have been changed and songs have been added, “fansies” will be glad to know that classics like “Santa Fe,” “Carrying the Banner,” and my personal favorite, the tap number “King of New York,” are still prominent features in the show.
Although the singing and acting performances of each cast member are top notch, the dancing is the real spectacle in this show. The choreography by Christopher Gattelli utilizes tap and ballet in a street setting. This is the most impressive, most heartwarming, most empowering, and most entertaining production I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Not only are the leads superb, but the ensemble also consists of some incredibly talented performers, highlighting Ben Fankhauser (Davey), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie), Ryan Breslin (Race), and Ryan Steele (Specs), who does more consecutive impeccable pirouettes than I can even comprehend.
Newsies has been nominated for eight Tony Awards. These nominations include Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Jeremy Jordan, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, and Best Scenic Design of a Musical. This show is ideal for anyone who enjoys rooting for the underdogs, taking a stand for your rights, creating a family out of your friends, or simply lots and lots of pirouettes.
Check out the list of Tony Award nominees on our Tony event page. Also don’t forget to watch the awards this Sunday, June 10. A review of another nominee, Clybourne Park can be found here on KRL as well with one more Tony review to come this week!