Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

Newsies
Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Fred's review of The Roommate and Zander's review of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)


Paige Smith and Jim Schubin
Photo by Gerry Goodstein
Connecticut Repertory Theatre is currently presenting a highly entertaining and satisfying production of Newsies. With a book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Jack Feldman, Newsies tells the story of a bunch of young kids in 1899 in New York who deliver newspapers and what happens when they eventually strike against their boss to achieve some justice. Based on a 1992 film that bombed at the box office, the creators of this musical transformed the source material into a show that became a hit on Broadway.

Director/choreographer Christopher d'Amboise has staged the show terrifically, with a splendid cast who manage to shine both individually and as a group. Led by the charismatic Jim Schubin as Jack Kelly, this show manages to get better as it goes along, with a great deal of energetic dancing. This production proves to be a crowd pleaser and the score sounds great as sung by this fine company of actors.

In addition to the excellent Jim Schubin, Tyler Jones scores as the sympathetic Crutchie, with Noah Kieserman and Atticus L. Burello also doing good work in supporting roles. Paige Smith is a joy as Katherine, a young newspaper writer and the show's love interest, and she does a wonderful job performing my favorite song from the show, "Watch What Happens."

Playing the adult characters, Tina Fabrique stops the show as entertainer Medda Larkin, powerfully putting over the number "That's Rich." As the villain of the piece, Joseph Pulitzer, Richard R. Henry brings a great deal of authority to the role and transforms his relatively minor number, "The Bottom Line," into a major moment, thanks to his rich voice and personality. Nate Healey also makes a nice impression, playing Governor Teddy Roosevelt in a couple of scenes late in the second act.

Still, Newsies will always belong to the young people in the show. Collectively, this group of actors is able to perform such songs as "Carrying the Banner, "King of New York," and "Seize the Day" with a great deal of brio and some magnificent dancing. And, while Christopher d'Amboise's choreography is not quite as dazzling as what Christopher Gattelli achieved on Broadway, the dance numbers are memorable and superbly performed.

In fact, the entire production shines, from scenic designer Tim Brown's multi-level set to the attractive costumes designed by Fan Zhang and the expressive lighting by Michael Chybowski. Music director NDavid Williams leads a crackerjack orchestra that does justice to Menken's catchy score, and the sound design by Michael Vincent Skinner is crystal clear.

Not to give anything away, but Connecticut Repertory Theatre's presentation of Newsies provides quite a dynamite finale, and the show remains fresh and surprising even to someone (like me) who has seen this musical before. This production is only playing for a week at Connecticut Repertory Theatre and is highly recommended.

Newsies, at Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs, CT through July 16, 2017. For tickets, please visit www.crt.uconn.edu or call the box office at 860-486-2113.


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