BWW JR: NEWSIES- Still Fierce
Last October I took my daughter to see NEWSIES at Papermill Playhouse and was thrilled to find another rare gem for my small collection of shows that parents can genuinely enjoy with their children. I'm relieved to say that the production's move to Broadway hasn't changed the its status on my short list. In fact, I think it's gotten better. It's been two days since we saw the show and I still can't get "And the World Will Know" or "Carrying the Banner" out of my head and my daughter remains a sworn fan for life.
For anyone living under a rock or suffering from acute Mommy Brain, a brief recap: Newsies is Disney Theatricals' live musical version of the 1992 movie of the same name which told the tale of the newsboy strike of 1889, a youth-lead revolt that forced newspaper moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to improve compensation practices for their child labor force. A flop at the box office, Newsies the film went on to become a cult hit and a financial success from it's DVD and video licensing while Broadway fans became addicted to the film's soundtrack.
When we saw the Papermill production, my daughter was seven and ripe for a lesson on the history of child labor in the US, unions and worker's rights. Now, at an oh-so-much-more-mature eight, we took our discussion to the next level, discussing Occupy Wall Street and the role of women in the work force, then and now. I think that the older your child is, the more they'll get out of the show in terms of a history lesson, but any kid over six will enjoy the show for it's theatrical elements.
First of all, it's a show about kids. And while most of the cast might not technically be children, they pump out enough pluck and spunk for audiences to buy into the orphan waif thing. And there is one actual child on stage....the night we attended we saw nine year old Lewis Grosso in the role of Les. He alternates with Matthew J. Schecter. Seeing one of her contemporaries on stage was definitely exciting for my daughter. Thankfully, she is not interested in being up there herself.
The athletic dancing, complete with every trick, turn and gymnastic move in the book, is eye candy to a theatre lover, and one cannot take their eyes off of Ryan Steele who plays Specs. The music is intoxicating in that perfect Disney pop way (The composer is Alan Menken, AKA the King of Disney Pop) and the set, "a la Erector", is fascinating to watch as it morphs into a zillion different structural incarnations without ever interrupting the flow of the scenes.
I'm always on the hunt for something I can say I honestly enjoyed not just for the sake of my kids but for myself. This is one I'd have no problem enjoying without my kids. Having one of them there with me just made it much, much better!
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
- Papermill Playhouse's staged version of the 1992 Disney musical film NEWSIES has moved to Broadway.
- Best for kids six and up.
- For now, it's only playing through August 19th. For more information or to buy tickets visit the show's website.
- On my shortlist of shows you can honestly enjoy with your kids. No really. I mean it.
From This Author Erin Leigh Peck