BWW Review: DISNEY'S NEWSIES Sing All About It at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

BWW Review: DISNEY'S NEWSIES Sing All About It at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse

Disney has a history of fantasy. Truly, this is the area in which they find their greatest achievements. Bringing such magic to the stage has long been in their wheelhouse. However, the land of imagination is not limited to fantasy. In Disney's Newsies, the only magic in the air is that which comes from theater, as the patrons of Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's latest production will tell you. With their latest production, CDP has done really nice work.

Overall, this mounting is full of memorable moments. The production design elements from Curtis Grittner (Scenic Design) and Deb Faber (Costume Design) are certain standouts throughout the show. Direction by Pat Payne is generally simple, yet solid, and works in the space. My one critique however, is using spaces in the theater other than the stage as part of the production. There were many moments in which actors broke the fourth wall and ventured into the audience to sing certain stanzas or use doors as exits and entrances. It is a personal preference of mine to not break the fourth wall. Due to the large size of the space, I found it to be a rather unnecessary choice.

Widely known as a dance-heavy production, I had certain expectations for this show that were not widely met. Choreography by Matthew D. Peters struggled in two main areas: 1) the choreography itself felt slow-moving compared to the fast paced music. In example, it seemed like there would be choreographed pirouettes that would take up a full bar of music instead of just a beat or two. 2) I also felt, to a certain extent, that Peters choreographed outside of the ability of the cast. Throughout the show, I was rooting for the cast members to align seamlessly in their movement and present to us a fully realized dance number. It never really happened.

The individual performances were full of strong actors. A certain favorite was that of Ben Griffin as Davey, the up-tight, conservative older brother trying to provide for his family. Kent Sugg as the main antagonist, Pulitzer, also gave a fun performance, as did the actors who played his newspaper staff. As strong as the performances were for most of the leading roles, I did not feel as if there was a strong, steady singing voice among them. As Medda Larkin, Samantha Jo Staggs gives an enjoyable performances, however her classically trained opera stylings did not benefit the role of a big-voiced vaudeville performer. As performers, one of the best things we can do is to not only have a knowledge of different vocal styles, but also developed voices in which to sing those styles. Harmony Livingston as Katherine Plumber and Logan Traver as Jack also fell short vocally, although their acting skills and chemistry on stage were incredibly strong. It seemed that Traver struggled with the range of the role, and at times he really seemed to be pushing his limits.

CDP's production of Disney's Newsies is overall, a solid piece of work. The show itself is built for enjoyment and the songs are as catchy as they are memorable. There were many smaller roles that were played by a variety of different cast members and these were some of my favorite moments. A strong cast, even down to the last ensemble member, makes for a more enjoyable experience.

Disney's Newsies runs at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse runs June 28 - August 26, 2018. For ticket information, visit

Photo Courtesy of Garland Photography

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From This Author Jon Bee

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