FWPCNR THEATRICAL REVIEW By John F. Bailey. April 23, 2019:
NEWSIES recent arrival of the 1992 Disney musical revival at Westchester Broadway Theatre has hit the streets!
The pretty Mary Beth Donahoe’s Katherine, inquiring pert reporter from the New York World(whom I’d spill the beans to in a typewriter click), covers the hardnosed labor leader from Brooklyn, USA Jack Kelly (the street smart Daniel Scott Walton), and cocky New Yawk “Newsies” are an EXTRA EDITION!
Your kids will love these kids. You romantic couples out there will get ideas. You solidly marrieds will remember when you met. You revolutionaries out there will haul out the picket signs and fight for truth, justice and the American way!
This is a spirited high-kicking romance-struggle-tap-tabloid of a Disney dazzler, edgey against-the-odds story of newsboys with heart who struck The New York World and The New York Journal in 1899. Joseph Pulitzer cut their pay due to hard times (for Pulitzer)’s World is charming, filled with dancers flying high, suspense, great costumes.
Mary Beth Donahoe is Katherine, beautiful Reporter, Lois Lane of her time. She takes charge, tap dances, types and does a special on rugged newsie community organizer Jack Kelly (played to type by Mr. Walton) as he organizes his newsboys to fight back against a massive wage cut.
Yet Gibson Girl doll Donahoe, has a secret as she charms Mr. Kelly to trust her. Her secret? It’s one of the many surprises in store that turns da love story on its head.
They meet “cute” at a demonstration. (Don’t cha love that? I met my wife cute at a Prentice-Hall bridge club). The book is ripped out of today’s 72 point type headlines with cute kids with spunk, Brooklyn savvy, that bring home why unions are good things for workers.
From the first plaintive strains of the WBT musicians who evoke that ragtime era yet still delivering contemporary blues wail in the opening number Santa Fe, watching Jack and the heart-breaking Richie Tombs as “Crutchie” climb out of their rooftop beds—most of the newsies are orphans making a meager existence of pennies a paper. When they burst in Carrying the Banner in Newsies Square you get behind these charmers.
Then boom! To the office of Joseph Pulitzer at the World, who like today’s corporate titans, when times get rough they make it rough on you, cut wages, make layoffs, and keep The Bottom Line.
Stuart Marland is a “Snidely Whiplash” of Joseph Pulitzer that amazes the audience with his cruel solution to the paper’s hard times. (In fact after seeing this musical, I wonder why in God’s name journalists named a reporting prize after this nasty guy).
At Medda’s Theatre, Medda, hides Jack and fellow newsies are from pursuing police sent to break heads at the demonstration.
Galyana Castillo laughs up the audience, singing That’s Rich, that will remind you of Mae West’s show stopper’s of the past. The whole vaudeville theatre sequence is capped by Mr. Walton and Alec Cohen performing with the Bowery Beauties with high kicks, glamour and 1890s glitz singing I Never Planned on You/Don’t Come Knocking.
Ms. Donahoe delivers two great solos that lifts her heart and yours to the roof. She builds and builds, higher and higher with rippling mesmerizin soprano. the ballad Watch What Happens, inspiring Jack to greatness.
After the big demonstration is staged with the anthem Seize the Day in Newsies Square, we retire to the rooftop, with Jack heartbroken.
Second Act lifts you up out of your chair when Katherine returns to Jacobi’s Deli and the ballad of dreamers everywhere King of New York is belted, danced, tapped and taken to the next level. What a way to kick off Act Two. This number performs the same jump start that Too Darn Hot achieves in Kiss Me, Kate.
Jack is stunned by what he learns about Katherine after his demonstration is broken up by Pulitzer’s thugs and Crutchie is beaten.
Patrick Toombs sings a letter to his buddies, Letter from the Refuge, and this will stir your empathy no matter how deep you hide it.. A very believable performance that embodies the commitment of the newsies to truth, justice, and fairness. Solid, Mr. Toombs. Dead, solid perfect.
Jack is down in the dumps and does not want to see Katherine again, but she seeks him out. She tells him not to give up and wins back his heart with a gesture – can you guess what it is? Not going to tell you. It’s too good, and she seals it with the great love song of this musical, Something to Believe In.
Meanwhile the plan the newsies hatch with Katherine’s help to turn public opinion is about to happen.
The audience just loved this finale.
The second act soars into hearts, dreams, and makes you want to inspire your own special someone, and have a cause, damn it!
And it’s a true story. When kids turned things around like an Our Gang adventure; bad guys turn good; and love conquers time place and status.
Fire your dreams of the you you once were and can be again with the intrepid NEWSIES
EXTRA! EXTRA! NEWSIES plays through May 26. Better hit www.BroadwayTheatre.com or call the box office 914-592-2268, tell ‘em Addison DeWitt sent you!