Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

“Newsies” Is Great … and Its Choreography Is Even Better

The “Newsies” cast will kick up their heels through Sunday at DPAC (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

The “Newsies” cast will kick up their heels through Sunday at DPAC (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

Once upon a time, some paperboys set out on a strike against unfair practices. This triumphant story evolved into a 1992 Disney flick starring Christian Bale, which received moderate, and later, cult success. As with many moderate-to-insanely popular films, Newsies was made into a musical with book by Harvey Fierstein.

The timeless underdog story focuses on Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca), a feisty paper-hawker, who, along with his friends and his fellow paperboys, including unsure-of-himself Davey (Jacob Kemp) and Davey’s younger brother Les (Anthony Rosenthal) takes a brave stand against injustice. Injustice, in this case, means Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard), a newspaper mogul who cares for profits, not people. When Jack creates a union and, subsequently, a strike, he gradually gains the support of his rag-tag colleagues and an all-too-pretty reporter by the name of Katherine (Stephanie Styles). His strike evolves into a colorful parade of song, dance, and celebration of the power that comes with getting behind a cause one believes in.

Fierstein’s script, as carefully directed by Jeff Calhoun, really drives home the power of forming against the establishment and embracing an “all for one, one for all” attitude. Despite the serious subtext, Fierstein’s script is vibrant and funny. He really nails the hopeful enthusiasm and exuberance of young people who believe in a cause…and, as a result, themselves.

In fact, that message of breaking out and standing up is what shines most beautifully here. The adult viewer casts aside the fact that it is 1899 and that these protesters are mere teenagers, while the younger viewer cares not about the time or circumstance, but only about the eternal rage over injustice and the powers that be.

The newsies "Seize the Day" and strike (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

The newsies “Seize the Day” and strike (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

This engrossing-to-all story plays out against backdrops so beautiful that Jack himself (you have to see to understand) could have painted them. Perhaps the only thing more intriguing than the colorful and sometimes appropriately gritty backdrop is the actors themselves.

DeLuca is impressively endearing as Jack Kelly. His powerful singing voice and his everyman yet rough-around-the-edges portrayal of Kelly is nothing short of brilliant. He shares great chemistry with Styles, who brings a truly sweet, truly Disney-esque, and truly true-to-life quality to her character. Also charming here is Zachary Sayle as Crutchie, Jack’s physically disabled friend and supporter; Kemp as his growing-into-himself friend, and Rosenthal as Davey’s sweet and exuberant young brother. Also, it would be unfair not to mention Blanchard’s perfectly slimy rendition of Pulitzer. While the character might not win any hearts, Blanchard really nails the ultimately non-evil yet greedy nature of his character.

Fabulous chemistry and a wonderfully playful vibe prevails throughout. And, while all of these things make the show thoroughly enjoyable, the thing that truly stands out here is Christopher Gattelli’s astounding choreography. His amazing and utterly entertaining dance routines, which are full of fast pirouettes and flips, never fail to capture the mood of the show nor the eye of the viewer. Even a person completely disengaged from what is happening story-wise could appreciate this fast-moving, flamboyant, and fantastic dance design.

Newsies is a show for both fans of the film and newcomers to the story alike. It is incredibly entertaining, surprisingly moving, and a true delight for the senses. The choreography makes it, and everything else falls carefully and perfectly in line.

Christopher Gattelli's astounding choreography won a 2012 Tony (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

Christopher Gattelli’s astounding choreography won a 2012 Tony (Disney© photo by Deen van Meer)

NOTE: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s June 2nd preview and June 4th review, both by Robert W. McDowell, click and, respectively.

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents Disney’s NEWSIES at 8 p.m. June 5, 2 and 8 p.m. June 6, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. June 7 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $46.54-$173.39 (including fees). Click here for DPAC Special Offers.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and











NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Friday, June 5th, performance.

DPAC AGE RESTRICTION (Kids at DPAC): “All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. Children under the age of 6 will not be admitted to the theater. Children must be able to sit quietly in their own seat without disturbing other guests. As a further courtesy to our guests, DPAC recommends one parent or chaperone for every one child in attendance.”


Newsies (1992 movie musical): (official website), (Turner Classic Movies page), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Newsies (2011 Paper Mill Playhouse and 2012 Broadway musical): (official website), (Music Theatre International), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (

Alan Menken (music): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Jack Feldman (lyrics): (Internet Broadway Database) and (Wikipedia).

Harvey Fierstein (book): (Internet Broadway Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews