Last night, the North Carolina Theatre proudly presented the inaugural performance of Disney’s Newsies, the final production of its 2017-18 season, to a delighted opening-night crowd. On the surface, Newsies appears to be slightly dated, because it is set in New York during the 1899 New York City newspaper strike. However, Parker Esse’s lively show-stopping choreography and musical numbers, directed by Edward G. “Eddy” Robinson, will easily transport you to that era.
Newsies features music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, and is based on a book by Harvey Fierstein. The book and play are adaptations of actual events that transpired in New York City during 1899. At that time, newspapers were the only forms of media. The Big Apple’s two largest newspapers, The New York World and The New York Journal, were the sole distributors of knowledge to the outside world and the only income for a number of struggling homeless orphan boys.
The orphan boys were known as “Newsies,” because they delivered the news to the world. They had to pay “taxes” for the privilege to sell the papers and sold them for pennies. When the industry heads became greedy and raised the taxes for the papers, the Newsies went on strike. All the boys wanted was a fair wage and a decent chance at life.
Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself; and the story sounds all-too-current and familiar. All most people really want in life is to be treated fairly and given the opportunity to succeed. This show is very much relevant in the fight for equality.
Director Steve Bebout does a beautiful job at staging some very beautiful moments and overall stage pictures, especially at the end of Act I. Lighting designer Samuel Rushen capitalizes some of these moments with his artistic lighting, casting wonderful dramatic silhouettes specifically in the song “Something to Believe In.”
The set consisted of multiple moving pieces that replicated scaffolding in the NYC downtown area. Although there appeared to be a few problems moving some of these items and finding the spike marks, the actors flawlessly navigated moving in and out of them.
Jason Gotay, who portrayed Jack, the leader of the gang, has the most wonderful voice and flawlessly executed the opening number “Santa Fe” vocally and emotionally. You felt all of the emotions of the character from grit, wanderlust, hopefulness, despair, grief, anger and, of course, love.
His faithful sidekicks and other leaders of the rebellion are: Steve Raymond in the role of Crutchie, the “newsie with the bum leg”; Huck Borden as Les, the youngest leader of the strike; and Daniel Plimpton as Davey, the brains behind the operation.
Of course, high accolades go to the ensemble dancers: Ethan Baker, Matthew Davies, Jordan De Leon, Alex Dreschke, Joseph Gaitens, Alec Gallazzi, Melvin Gray Jr., Wayne Mackins, Timothy Charles Malboeuf Jr., Joshua Messmore, Caylie Rose Newcom, Eddie Olmo II, and Brandon L. Whitmore who truly make this show fabulous. Each ensemble member has a unique personality and a high-energy dance specialty.
SECOND OPINION: July 25th Durham, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-North-Carolina-Theatres-NEWSIES-20180725 and July 23rd BWW TV interview with choreographer Parker Esse, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Choreographer-Parker-Esse-on-North-Carolina-Theatres-NEWSIES-20180723; July 17th Raleigh, NC B93.9 FM: New Country interview with actors Shannon O’Boyle and Steve Raymond, conducted by Madeline Drake: https://b939country.iheart.com/content/2018-07-17-newsies/; and July 7th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article214205869.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the July 24th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/07/stop-the-presses-the-north-carolina-theatre-will-stage-disneys-newsies-on-july-24-29/.)
The North Carolina Theatre presents Disney’s NEWSIES at 7:30 p.m. July 25-27 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. July 28 and 29 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25.15-$108.15, except $25 college-student tickets.
BOX OFFICE: NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369155/2485834.
2017-18 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201718-season.
NCT NEWS RELEASE: https://nctheatre.com/blog/nc-theatre-announces-cast-disneys-newsies-0.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, July 28th, performance.
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), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-menken-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): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/jack-feldman-79622 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Feldman_%28songwriter%29 (Wikipedia).
Harvey Fierstein (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/harvey-fierstein-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).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.