Spectacular Dance that could make Headlines
For dance fans, Newsies is the ultimate show. Based on the true story of the 1899 newsboys strike in New York City, Newsies was created first as a movie in 1992, and then re-made for Broadway, winning the Tony for best choreography in 2012. The Broadway tour is now on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto.
In 1899, boys, usually orphans, lived together in ghetto-like buildings. They had to purchase a quantity of newspapers each day from the big New York City publishers and then turn around and sell them on the streets. When publisher Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raised the price of a bundle of newspapers, the newsboys or “newsies” went on strike and refuse to sell the papers. Circulation dropped dramatically, and Pulitzer met with the boys to end the strike. They were able to get the big publishers to repay them for any papers not sold.
The musical story features newsie Jack Kelly who longs for the day when he can leave New York for Santa Fe. His best friend is Crutchie, a disabled newsie. Joining them in selling “papes” (papers) is Davy and Les, brothers whose father has lost his job, forcing them to quit school and start selling papers. Despite their difficult circumstances, they are still better off than all the orphans. A young female reporter covers the strike and becomes Jack’s love interest – there is a twist in the tale that I won’t reveal as it could be a plot spoiler.
It is a spellbinding production, just for the dance. A cast of a dozen or so newsboys keeps the show lively with energetic choreography. They are constantly leaping, cartwheeling and flipping across the stage, toes barely touching the floor.
The cast of this touring U.S. production is very impressive. Many of the dancers have impressive bios and have worked on Broadway.
The set is well done. We have the feel of the tenements of 1890s New York with the steel structures and projections that let the audience know where the newsies are. The structures move quickly around the stage as necessary, in keeping with the lively show.
There are memorable tunes, such as Seize the Day, and King of New York, and other songs that seem a little slow in the midst of all the activity. Nevertheless, it’s a heartwarming story with a heartbreaking subplot, but all ends well.
For those who enjoy watching deftly choreographed and tightly synchronized big dance numbers with very nimble young dancers, Newsies is not to be missed.
Newsies continues with eight shows a week at Ed Mirvish Theatre until August 30. Call Ticket King 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com for tickets.
Photo: Newsies. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Jack Feldman
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Choreographed by Christopher Gattelli
Musical Direction by James Dodgson
Performed by Dan Deluca, Steve Blanchard, Stephanie Styles, Angela Grovey, Jacob Kemp, Zachary Sayle et al.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions
Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto
July 8 to August 30, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson