Newsies – Review by Don Church and Tony Schillaci

CRT’s ‘NEWSIES’ sparkles with extraordinary choreography and a buoyant, energetic cast

The Nutmeg Summer Series at The Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) at UCONN in Storrs, Connecticut concluded the season with a big hit when Newsies roared onto the stage at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater for an all-too-short run in early July.

Newsies has a Tony Award-winning score by acclaimed Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a book by the irrepressible Harvey Fierstein. Tony Award-nominee Christopher d’Amboise directed and choreographed this whiz-bang of a show. The enthusiastic cast is led by Jim Schubin (Jack Kelly), Tyler Jones (Crutchie), Richard R. Henry (Joseph Pulitzer), and Tina Fabrique (Medda Larkin). All four are members of Actors Equity.

Set in the tenements and mean streets of New York City, Newsies tells a story inspired by the real events of the Newsboy Strike of 1899. The theme of social injustice, exploitive labor, and the true impact of people who resist the oppressing power elite is relevant today.

But, not to worry – for all its seriousness, this show is a joy to watch. The talented and charismatic cast gives its all, individually and collectively. The actors are totally believable as they enjoy themselves playing street kids struggling for survival with a sense of humor – and unity. Leaping, bouncing, flying and jumping, the newsies dances are stunning to watch.

Mr. d’Amboise, who last choreographed My Fair Lady at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, said, “I grew up watching my father – Jacques d’Amboise, in the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and always wanted to direct a show full of lots of men dancing wildly. Newsies is that show. I am also attracted to the show’s themes of embracing alternative families and the romantic notion of loyalty to friends above personal gain. Newsies is a coming of age story that we can all relate to while watching a bunch of men dancing their tails off!”

Broadway veteran Tina Fabrique as eccentric Medda Larkin has only one ‘big number’ – “That’s Rich” which she does with ease, style and razzmatazz grace. The blended voices of Jim Schubin* and Tyler Jones* as Jack and Crutchie shine in the anthem “Santa Fe” while the ensemble pieces “Carrying the Banner,” “The World Will Know,” “Seize The Day,” “Once and For All” and “King of New York” are a testament to why Alan Menken has won so many awards, including nine Oscars, for his brilliant music. The actors sing with gusto, and do justice to Menken’s magic melodies.

When newsboy Jack and newspaper reporter Katherine (Paige Smith) duet in “I Never Planned On You” and “Something To Believe In” their blended voices once again put Menken’s musical genius up front.

Bold-voiced Richard R. Henry is a perfect as the blowhard publishing titan Joseph Pulitzer. It’s cliché to say he’s the villain you love to hate, but it’s easy to identify him with many greedy moguls who are active today.

The production team includes Kelly Crandall d’Amboise (Associate Choreographer), Tim Brown (Scenic Design), Fan Zheng (Costume Design), Michael Chybowski (Lighting Design), Michael Vincent Skinner (Sound Design), John Parmalee (Technical Director), NDavid Williams (Music Director), Tom McDonough (Conductor) and Thomas Kosis (Production Stage Manager). All the elements of this production worked in harmony, and each of these professionals deserves a separate curtain call!

The rest of the dazzling, always-in-the-moment cast is made up of up-and-coming students and working
actors who deserve to be singled out and applauded: Aaron Bantum (Albert), Darren Brown (Scab
1/Citizen/Police), Will Bryant (Wiesel/Police/Mayor), Atticus Burello (Les), Jacob Burns (Specs/Jojo), Kent Coleman (Scab 2/Citizen/Stage Manager), Spencer Croy (Finch/Elmer), Brandon Engman
(Mush/Buttons), Jamaal Fields-Green (Spot Conion/Citizen), Nate Healey (Governor Theodore
Roosevelt/Nunzio/Police), Dharon Jones (Henry/Sniper), Noah Kieserman (Davey), Simon Longnight
(Romeo/Tommy Boy), Aidan Marchetti (Seit/Jacobi), Kalob Martinez (Snyder), Cullen Ries (Oscar
Delancey), Alyssa Sarnoff (Hannah/Nun/Dancer/Citizen), Tuck Sweeney (Race), Andy Viviano (Morris
Delancey), and Jane Zogbi (Nun/Dancer/Citizen). Watch these actors – you’ll see many of them having
future career successes!

Our only regret is that this show was not scheduled for longer run. It is truly one of the highlights
of the 2017 theater scene in Connecticut.

We strongly suggest that for future performances at CRT you go to www. crt.uconn.edu or call 860-486-
2113 to get all the information you’ll need about subscription prices, future shows and single ticket
availability. For updates about future shows and the 2018 season, follow CRT on Facebook and Twitter.

The Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre is located on the campus of the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, CT

Comments are closed