“Newsies” is a musical about boys, and as such it doesn’t stop to take many breaths regardless of whether adults in the audience can keep up.
This Disney-produced stage adaptation of a musical film that bombed won’t startle you with its vocal talent, costumes or sets. But it does offer 2 ½ hours of consistent energy and scrappy, cheer-for-the-little-guy fun.
If that kind of entertainment appeals to you, there’s unfortunately not much time to catch this musical in Atlanta. The tour of the hugely successful Broadway production is stopping at the Fox Theatre for less than a week, with the last show on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m.
“Newsies” is a loose adaptation of true events in 1899, when newsboys in New York City organized a strike rather than accept an increase in the price of newspapers they bought from Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst and other media moguls of the time. The newsies strike is regarded as a seminal event in the eventual improvement of working conditions for children in the early 20th century.
Someone convinced Disney the tale would make a great musical movie, which turned out to be a rare miscalculation by the company, as the 1992 movie bombed despite the efforts of a young Christian Bale. However, nobody wields entertainment magic like Disney does, and the wizards at Disney Theatrical Productions shaped the story into a stage bombshell: 1,005 performances and more than $100 million gross on Broadway since March 2012.
Along the way, “Newsies” acquired a near cult of hard-core followers known as “fansies.” We weren’t sure how many fansies were in the audience for the Jan. 20 sold-out premiere.
In the musical, plucky and streetwise teenage newsie Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca) stands up for the rights and futures of his pals Crutchie (Zachary Sayle), Davey (Jacob Kemp) and Les (Vincent Crocilla and Anthony Rosenthal alternating). He gets unexpected help from a struggling girl reporter with a hidden family background (Stephanie Styles as Katherine) and from an irrepressible dance hall owner (Angela Grovey as Medda).
The young performers in “Newsies” can definitely belt out a musical number, kick for the ceiling and turn lithe back flips in dance numbers, rattle spoons and whip into a tap dance number in the blink of an eye. Vocal chops are on best display during the newsies’ performance of “Seize The Day,” the boys and Katherine in “King of New York” and Medda’s throaty “That’s Rich.”
Part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway Series, “Newsies” was nominated for 23 major theatrical awards and won six of them, including 2012 Tony awards for Best Choreography and Best Original Score. In addition to the final show on Sunday, remaining shows are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Ticket prices range from either $25 to $125 or $35 to $125, depending on the performance. The Fox Theatre is at the corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue in north downtown Atlanta.
Julie McKenna, guest blogger for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), is a journalism graduate of the University of Florida and lives in Atlanta. Her professional background is in corporate and internal communications, and she also teaches adult literacy programs. Jon McKenna, guest blogger for the ACVB, is an editor at a business webinar company in Atlanta and previously worked as a financial journalist. He lives with his wife, Julie, and their two children in Northeast Atlanta.