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'Newsies' impresses with choreography, acting (VIDEO)

From the beginning, the audience of the Nederlander Theatre were instantly intrigued. Immediately I thought of a Disney’s version of Magic Mike but without the provocative plot or scandalous dancing. Opening with two shabby homeless men singing their heart away into the early morning, they tell the story of a group of Newsies who stand up to the all powerful Joseph Pulitzer.

Based on the 1992 Disney movie, Newsies premiered world wide on September 21, 2011, and brought to Broadway in 2012. The theatrical play is directed by Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli; the show still proves to be one of the most popular selections on Broadway.

Newsies, set in 1899, is the story of a group of orphans selling newspapers just to make ends meet in the impoverished streets of New York. Jack Kelly (Corey Cott) and Crutchie (Andy Richardson), along with a group of others, are tired of being bullied by the evil Pulitzer who raises prices on the newspaper for the newsies, as a tactic to sell more papers. This is a tale of nobody’s who are in search of a way to broadcast their voice to show the corruption within “The World” newspaper.

Jack Kelly is torn between his dream of traveling to Santa Fe and staying in New York to help the newsies. The constant struggle between leaving and running away was a classic fight or flight moment. The audience sympathetically wanted to side with Jack but could not, knowing the right thing to do was to stay and fight back. The question that that I asked myself throughout the night was “Would the storyline change if Kelly left to Santa Fe?”

Kelly must do his best to motivate the crew and keep them on their feet; with the cost rising of newspapers. Kelly organizes a union to go on strike. In the midst of coordinating the event, for a time, he is bribed by Pulitzer to turn his back on his lifelong friends and run to Santa Fe and never look back or else he will be sent to the local juvenile delinquent jail: “The Refuge.”

The story continues with the scenes of the newsies gathering and conspiring how to overcome the recent rise of the cost of the newspapers. From here the singing and dancing becomes intense and the crowd is constantly clapping in awe of the performance. The audience is amazed with the successful completions of backflips and splits; some seemed more impressed with the harmonizing voices.

For a small time in the show Kelly does turn his back, but his newfound friend Dave (Ben Frankhauser) reminds him of his friend, Crutchie, who was abducted and sent to juvenile services during the first strike. Together with the support of other newsies from Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and other notable cities they stand up to Pulitzer who is forced to compromise with Kelly. Of course the Newsies won.

The play ends with infectious need to sing along and fantastic choreography which caused me to want to stay awake during the show. Hence, this would be the first time I have stayed awake during a musical. No one seemed too displeased with the play itself. In fact, the choreography was the highlight of the evening. The biggest hit of the night was the song “Seize the Day.” The song recurred thoughout the night and was popular among the audience.

The wardrobe for the characters amazingly reflected the time period in the musical. The detailed work was shown throughout the entire night on each character. It amused me to see the characters clothes portray their personality in the musical. But I commend Richardson who played Crutchie for his ability to actually fool the audience members into thinking he was actually crippled.

The actors are indeed talented and displayed that during the play. The actor that especially drew my eye was Nicholas Lampiasi, who played Les, the youngest cast member. During the entire night the crowd would “ooooh” and “awww” at the facial and physical expressions the kid was capable of.

The actors definitely made a huge impact. The plot may not have been the best, since the 1992 movie was a dud. The muscular studs that were bulging out of their clothes kept the audiences’ attention through the night. The combination of good-looking men and heavenly voices mixing together made the play more enjoyable. Although, I was shocked to see less than a handful of female actress included in the musical. Overall I could watch newsies all over again and still have the initial shock of excitement.

To watch the trailer for the Broadway show, Newsies, visit Newsies, The Musical, on YouTube.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @StephanMelendez

For more reviews, read the April 2 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 4 (VIDEO).

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