On June 2-7, 2015, the high-octane First National Tour of Disney’s sensational 2012 Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical, Newsies, roared into the Durham Performing Arts Center, hitting on all cylinders, thanks to the dynamic direction of two-time Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun (Newsies and the 1994 Revival of Grease) and the combustible choreography of 2012 Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), whose exuberant dance numbers are poetry in motion. In newspaper parlance, Newsies delivers! And now it’s back, for eight performances Aug. 16-21, as a DPAC “Season Add On.”
A new-and-improved version of the 1992 Disney movie musical, which unashamedly roots for the underpaid underdogs in the 1899 New York City newspaper strike, this touring version of Newsies currently stars Joey Barreiro as plucky turn-of-the-century New York newspaper delivery boy (i.e., “newsie”) Jack Kelly, who organizes the ragamuffin newsboys of lower Manhattan to strike against a capricious price increase by greedy New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) — played, since the tour commenced in October 2014, with panache and a knowing wink by a wonderful Steve Blanchard.
The First National Tour, which concludes on Oct. 2, 2016, also stars Morgan Keene as New York Sun cub reporter Katherine Plumber, Aisha De Haas as newsboy friend and theater owner Medda Larkin, Stephen Michael Langton as Jack’s friend Davy, and Andy Richardson as Jack’s disabled pal Crutchie. Turner Birthisel and Ethan Steiner alternate in the role of Davey’s little brother Les.
Scenic designer Tobin Ost’s soaring set — three ingenious movable multilevel square steel towers, with interior stairwells and exterior scrims that can be lowered like lampshades to provide projection screens for vintage photos and other scene-setting illustrations — and the terrific turn-of-the-century outfits by costume designer Jess Goldstein and vivacious musical staging help make Newsies look like a million bucks. But it is the animated live orchestra of music director and conductor James Dodgson and music supervisor Michael Kosarin that is the cherry on top of this delicious musical sundae.
Newsies, which features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein, premiered on Sept. 25, 2011 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. The show made its Broadway debut on March 29, 2012 at the Nederlander Theatre, where it ran for 1,004 performances before closing on Aug. 24, 2014. Nominated for eight Tony Awards®, Newsies won the Tonys for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre and Best Choreography (Christopher Gattelli), plus the 2012 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Choreography.
Broadway veteran Steve Ballard is doubly delighted to be playing the nominal villain of Newsies on tour and to be performing opposite his wife, Meredith Inglesby, who plays the secretary of penny-pinching newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who not only pioneered “yellow journalism” in both the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World, but also posthumously lent his surname to the Pulitzer Prizes awarded for outstanding achievement in Journalism and in Arts & Letters.
“It’s always a joy and a pleasure to play the villain,” Blanchard says, “because villains are usually … so complex and so diverse that you can play them any way that you want to…. I try to bring the essence of the real [Joseph Pulitzer] into the play. He was such a firestorm, a real self-made man….
“Obviously, [Newsies] is a fictional piece, woven around a real event. For the purposes of our story, Pulitzer has to be the Big Bad Wolf,” chuckles the 57-year-old Bryans Road, MD native and 1980 graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park.
Blanchard has played both Gaston and the Beast in Beast and the Beauty on Broadway and on tour and Lancelot in 1993 Broadway Revival and subsequent tour of Camelot. Indeed, Steve Blanchard played the Beast on Broadway and on tour for 11 years (more times than anyone else). But he also delighted in playing the insufferably conceited Gaston. “That role was so rich and dark,” Blanchard recalls. “It was like playing a Disney cartoon character, and I loved it.”
Blanchard notes, “All of my scenes [in Newsies] are with my wife, because she is [Pulitzer’s] secretary. She has a great many scene-stealing moments in this show, and I try not to look upstage,” he quips.
“There’s something for everyone [in Newsies],” claims Steve Blanchard, “whether you’re five or 95. There’s something joyful about this show….
“Harvey Fierstein’s stage adaptation [of the original 1992 screenplay by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White] is terrific. It’s very, very clever,” says Blanchard.
He adds, “When they mounted the tour, Disney told the creators, here’s your chance to change anything that you’ve always wanted to change.” Blanchard says that Alan Menken wrote a new song for Crutchie, and the creators took to opportunity the “nip-and-tuck” a few scenes in what the actor calls a classic David-and-Goliath story.
SECOND OPINION: Aug 11th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/extra-extra-newsies-success-was-a-surprise/article_cf8c3b2e-5fcf-11e6-9fd9-cb76ff0536a1.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); Aug. 8th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh preview by Taryn Oesch: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Preview-NEWSIES-Heads-to-DPAC-20160808; and Aug. 7th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Jakob S. Miller for “Teens & Twenties”: http://teensandtwenties.com/newsies-has-history-heart/.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents Disney’s NEWSIES at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16-18, 8 p.m. Aug. 19, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 20, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30-$90. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1984863.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/newsies-1 and https://www.facebook.com/events/817346731728495/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Y-t0wg2_k.
THE TOUR: http://www.newsiesthemusical.com/ and https://www.ibdb.com/tour-production/newsies-the-musical–499537.
TOUR CAST: http://www.newsiesthemusical.com/cast.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.newsiesthemusical.com/cast/_creative_team.
TOUR STUDY GUIDE: http://newsiesthemusical.com/pdf/NewsiesStudyGuide.pdf.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: http://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/disneys-newsies-triumphantly-returns-to-dpac-in-2016.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
DPAC AGE RESTRICTION (Kids at DPAC): “Please note that all guests require a ticket, regardless of age. Children under the age of 6 are not allowed at this performance. 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): http://movies.disney.com/newsies (official website), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/21492/Newsies/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104990/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsies (Wikipedia).
Newsies (2011 Paper Mill Playhouse and 2012 Broadway musical): http://www.newsiesthemusical.com/ (official website), http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000427 (Music Theatre International), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/newsies-the-musical-491209 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/Newsies (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/Newsies (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsies_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Alan Menken (music): http://www.alanmenken.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=12135 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/AlanMenkenStudio (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/aimenken (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Jack Feldman (lyrics): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=79622 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Feldman_%28songwriter%29 (Wikipedia).
Harvey Fierstein (book): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6157 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/harvey.fierstein (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/harveyfierstein (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Fierstein (Wikipedia).
Steve Blanchard (actor playing Joseph Pulitzer): http://www.steveblanchard.net/ (official website), http://www.newsiesthemusical.com/cast (tour bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/22511 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/steven-blanchard-77241 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0087104/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/steve.blanchard.779 (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/sblanchcrd (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Blanchard (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE