Manhattan’s newsboys are going on strike in Broadway Across Canada’s stage production of Disney’s Newsies and it’s great to watch. The musical, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, is based on the 1992 film Newsies, which actually stemmed from a real world strike of newsboys in 1899 in New York City.
The stage production tells of Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro) an orphaned newsboy who dreams of leaving New York City and move to Santa Fe. Jack’s best friend is Crutchie (Andy Richardson) and the other boys who are mostly all homeless and orphaned go to their job of selling the newspaper. They meet Davey (Stephen Micheal Langton) and his little brother Les (Ethan Steiner) whose father had an accident at work and was laid off, so they have to sell papers.
Cut to the publisher of the New York World Newspaper, Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard) who wants to make more money selling his newspaper, compared to the competition and increases the costs to the newsies, essentially making money off of the poor and homeless. But the Newsies decide that they won’t have it, with their leader Jack Kelly at the forefront, they decide to go on strike and try and convince the newsies in other regions across New York to do the same. They get sympathy from an up and coming reporter Katherine (Morgan Keene) and get some publicity. But Pulitzer buckles down even further and the newsboys have to hold their ground.
This musical is filled with strong voices, especially Barreiro, and the entire cast is energetic and dynamic. Christopher Gattelli’s choreography includes many flips, tumbles, and pirouettes. Especially impressive is one ensemble member spinning on a newspaper on stage. The songs tend to all sound the same, but that doesn’t take away from the energy of the production.
We are rooting for the underdogs in Newsies. It’s a story set in Manhattan in 1899 but has lessons that resonate today. The fashion and social constructs are from more than a century ago, but it’s the same story of the privileged trying to shut out the poor. It would do us some good to listen.
Broadway Across Canada’s production of Disney’s Newsies runs until July 24th. More information is available online.