BWW Review: NEWSIES Brings Atlanta Dancing to a New Level at the Atlanta Lyric Theatre
The Atlanta Lyric Theatre is presenting quite a treat for Atlanta audiences this month.
Now through November 4, Disney's NEWSIES takes the stage as the best dancers in our city spin, leap, and barrel-roll their hearts out. This marks the second run for the Aurora Theatre's summer musical, produced in partnership with the Lyric.
Based on the 1992 Disney movie of the same name, NEWSIES tells the story of a group of orphan boys in 1899 who hawk newspapers to scrape together a meager living. When the big bad guy Joseph Pulitzer (yes, that Joseph Pulitzer) raises the price the newsies pay up front, newsie rebel Jack Kelly leads the boys in a strike to take down The World (Joe's paper). And then there's a little romance thrown in there for good measure.
Everything the Aurora Theatre touches turns to gold, so it's no surprise that every moment of NEWSIES is as enchanting on the Lyric Stage as it was in Lawrenceville this summer. Having not measured the stages, I can't say for a fact that the Lyric's is larger, but I can say the grand scale of Ricardo Aponte's choreography which sometimes felt crowded at Aurora sits comfortably in the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre.
The show's only challenges are inherent in the writing itself, like the weak opening scene and the most unbelievable romance ever written, between Jack and The Sun reporter Katherine. The Lyric/Aurora's interpretation is a slight improvement on the 2012 Broadway version, but Katherine's headstrong, "no cares given and certainly not about Jack" nature goes far enough that when they actually fall in love, it makes no sense.
If there are better triple-threats in Atlanta than these newsies, I know I haven't seen them. The young men of the company dance almost non-stop from beginning to end, executing Aponte's acrobatic choreography flawlessly. It wasn't lost on me that these ensemble dancers take their bows almost last, after named characters like Pulitzer and barely before leading man Jack. With particular standouts like Joseph Pendergrast (an Aurora Theatre mainstay whose dancing has become one of the highlights of their shows) and Aaron Carter, the newsies themselves carry the show on their backs.
Adrianna Trachell's soaring voice and effortless dancing almost completely redeem Katherine, making me look forward to seeing her portray a character that isn't annoying and has good songs to sing.
As strike leader Jack Kelly, Greg Kamp demonstrates stunning vocals, dances easily in step with the ensemble, and embodies the antics of a teenager with ease. He shows his impressive range as an actor and proves himself an indispensable addition to the Atlanta stage.
Under the direction of the brilliant Justin Anderson, NEWSIES is a delightful masterpiece through and through. With a refreshingly black-and-white, good guys versus bad guys plot with a happy ending, no one in their right mind won't enjoy this show.
Atlanta Lyric Theatre presents this sparkling, larger than life production October 19-November 4, 2018. After a fabulous run in Gwinnett county, the Lyric is pleased to bring this exciting collaboration with Aurora Theatre to its audiences. Based on the 1992 motion picture, NEWSIES features a score by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy). NEWSIES, performs at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre (548 South Marietta Pkwy., Marietta). For tickets, reservations and group pricing visit www.AtlantaLyric.com or call 404-377-9948.