Newsies on Broadway – Review
During my short trip to NYC last month, I saw 3 Broadway shows. ‘Newsies’ was the second and the one I knew least about. I’d never watched the Disney film, had no knowledge of the cast or score and didn’t have any idea about the plot. I decided to go see it for the simple reason that it had got incredible reviews and I fancied seeing a new show. So I entered the Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street with little expectation… only to come out thinking I’d seen one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!
And here’s the main reason why. I like dancing in shows. And ‘Newsies’ has a LOT of dancing. And GOOD dancing, too. As soon as I saw the first big dance number in the show, I thought to myself “no wonder why they won best choreography at the Tony’s last year”! The choreographer, Christopher Gattelli has created fun and exciting routines that completely grab the audience’s attention from start to finish. There is so much going on in some of the ensemble scenes, from pirouettes to backflips to dancing on (literally ON) newspapers, that it’s impossible to take it all in with just one visit. I personally felt an urge to watch back each dance number as soon as it was over, to try and notice new details and spot new moves I had missed the first time. The choreography alone is worth seeing ‘Newsies’ for. It helps that the cast consists of very strong dancers. The talent on stage during the big ensemble scenes is overwhelming. Each and every cast member has exquisite dance abilities that come together to create a visual spectacular.
But the talent doesn’t end in the ensemble. The lead characters, particularly ‘Jack Kelly’ (played by Corey Cott) are also highlights in the show. Corey who has made his Broadway debut in ‘Newsies’ shows the right amount of confidence, vulnerability and hopelessness as ‘Jack’ – the leader of a group of newsies (paperboys) who decide to go on a strike to protest against the increase in newspaper prices. The plot mainly revolves around this Newsies strike, showing the frustrations and camaraderie of the boys as they try to win against New York World publisher (Joseph Pulitzer). One of the other main characters, ‘Katherine Plumber’ (played by Kara Lindsay) stands outs partly due to being one of the few females in the show, but also because of her sweet yet determined personality in the role. ‘Katherine’ is a young journalist who decides to take the newsies strike as her opportunity to gain experience as a reporter and write a story that would help her journalism career. Kara and Corey have great on-stage chemistry as their characters start to develope a unique friendship in the show. The audience quickly warms to their cheesy but witty conversations and of course, there’s a typical Disney ‘moment’ towards the end of the show where their relationship reaches a new happy level. Some may find it too predictable, but I found it touching and beautiful. I knew it was going to happen, you can guess that from the moment ‘Katherine’ meets ‘Jack’. But it was still enjoyable to watch and added to the ‘magic’ of a musical produced by Disney.
Perhaps, what I found most fascinating about the show, is that the plot is actually based on a true story. There was in fact, a real strike in New York in 1899 where paperboys (or Newsies as they call them in America) of that time decided to protest against Pulitzer and ask for better living conditions. Now I’m not gonna reveal whether or not they won, you’ll have to watch the show to find out 😉 But it’s interesting that so many Americans connect with the show because of that historical accuracy. Obviously, I didn’t even know about it before I saw the show, so I can’t relate – but as I watched other audience members in the interval, I could tell many were discussing the serious aspect of the strike conveyed in the show. It reminded me of how I feel about one of my favourite musicals, ‘Billy Elliot’ which is also about a true strike. But one I actually know about. It’s definitely a heart-warming show whether or not you care about the 1899 strike, though. It’s a classic underdog vs. bad powerful guy story and it’s told in a beautiful way.
The songs are as good as everything else in the show. With a memorable score by multiple Tony-winning musical genius, Alan Menken, it’s not surprising that I left the theatre humming the melodies. It’s also not surprising that I bought the cast recording immediately after I returned to London and that the songs all have over 50 ‘play counts’ on my iTunes already! From energetic catchy tunes such as ‘Carrying the Banner’ and ‘King of New York’ to goosebump-inducing ones like ‘Once and For All’ and ‘Santa Fe’ to sappy romantic tear-jerkers like ‘Something To Believe In’ – the show covers them all.
Overall, ‘Newsies’ was undoubtedly the best show I’ve seen this year. It’s rare to get a huge desire to see a show again WHILST you’re still in the theatre watching it. But 20 minutes into Newsies and I KNEW I’d have to come back to see it again at some point. It’s one of those shows that keeps you mesmerised from the start and makes you want more. It also has a good message, for anyone that cares for that kind of thing. It’s uplifting and fun. With an incredibly talented young cast. And a good story. Definitely worth a watch if you get a chance. I know I’ll certainly be seeing it again as soon as I can get myself back to NYC!
Here’s a video of some of my thoughts on the show, if you care to watch that too! 🙂