Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Dazzling Production of Newsies
Also see Richard's review of Abundance
Newsies takes place in 1899 during the New York City newsboys strike. Jack Kelly (Dan Deluca), a roustabout, and hundreds of often homeless and orphaned children would sell newspapers to support themselves. Jack meets Davey (Jacob Kemp) and his younger brother Les (Anthony Rosenthal), and they become newspaper boys to help with their family's finances. We meet Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard), who is already wealthy and decides to inflate the newsies' paper prices overnight. This means that it's time for the boys to unite and strike.
Newsies the musical follows the Disney movie of the same name; however, Harvey Fierstein has added an intrepid reporter and love interest for Jack Kelly, Katherine (Stephanie Styles), and a friendly burlesque queen named Medda Larkin (Angela Grovey).
The songs are mostly upbeat and workable, such as "Carrying the Banner," "The World Will Know" "Seize the Day," "Brooklyn's Here" and "Once and for All." They are triumphal and joyous anthems that are beautifully sung and danced by the chorus of newsboys.
Oh, the dancing in this two and a half hour production is overpowering. There are orgiastic bursts of athletic leaping, tapping, sliding, and spinning. The dancing here is reminiscent of the boogying in West Side Story. This is some of the best agile dancing I have seen in years.
Dan DeLuca is charismatic as Jack Kelly; he has powerful vocal cords while belting out "Seize the Day," and turns with pitch perfect resonance to dreamily sing about going West to Santa Fe. Jacob Kemp skillfully plays Davey and Anthony Rosenthal, alternating with Vincent Crocilla, is a charmer playing 9-year-old Les. Zachary Sayle gives a winning performance as Crutchie.
Stephanie Styles has a stunning voice and easy nerve. She is especially enticing in her solo with a typewriter, "Watch What Happens." Angela Grovey, who has great resonant vocal cords, is excellent as the flamboyant Medda.
However, it's the newsboys with their endless energy, memorable skill, and physical sense of comradeship who are the real stars here.
Newsies runs through March 15, 2015, at the Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street, San Francisco For tickets call 888-746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com. For more information on the tour, visit newsiesthemusical.com. Coming up next is Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye, The Farewell Tour playing at the Orpheum Theatre March 17 through March 22nd. Coming to the Orpheum also will be a specular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webbers's The Phantom of the Opera opening on August 19 and running through October 4th.