BWW Review: NEWSIES at Diamond Head Theatre Carries the Banner
Every now and then, a show comes along which displays the mass talent of the community's younger generation. Such can be said with the recently closed Newsies in Honolulu, Hawaii's Diamond Head Theatre (DHT), commonly referred to as "The Broadway of the Pacific." While many spectacular features comprise this marvelous musical, what truly stands out is its impressive cast, elevated by its lead performances, choreography, and musical direction.
Showboating talent from ages 10-50+, the unsung heroes of the show that truly make it a glorious one is the ensemble, not only "carrying the banner," but also the show in its entirety. As it appears, the titular Newsies are comprised of approximately 16 actors and dancers, ranging from pre-teen to mid-twenties, both male and female. Their stamina and impeccable ability to dance in sync with not only the music, but each other, truly leaves the audience in awe. Throughout the show, I found myself amazed by how each dancer is able to retain every intricate choreographic detail throughout the show, without messing up or forgetting a step. Their agility, flexibility, and skill all contribute to a great show. Now, not only do those playing the Newsies stand out, but the entire ensemble and show are elevated by the lead performances of Nick Amador (Jack) and Kira Stone (Katherine). At the ripe age of 17-18, recently graduated Amador, headed to Harvard in the fall, has already graced the DHT stage in many featured roles, namely Mary Poppins and Show Boat, and proves his acting ability as the lead Newsie Jack, conflicted between standing alongside his peers or following his heart for love. It is in his solo of "Santa Fe" which closes out act 1, where he demonstrates his effortless ability to embody a character and tell his story. Deservedly, Amador won a Po'okela Award for Leading Male in a Musical. Furthermore, matching his ability is Stone as Katherine, who has similarly been seen in featured roles on the DHT, namely Shrek and The Sound of Music, with a lead performance of the titular Annie. Here, Stone shines as the young lady devoted to her art of writing and journalism over living a luxurious lifestyle provided by her character's wealthy father, as well as toying with the idea of love with Jack. Those who've followed Stone's stage credits and performances will be proud to see her talent have its moment in the spotlight, in which she, too, won a Po'okela Award for Leading Female in a Musical. The cast, led by Amador and Stone, supported by the energetic ensemble of Newsies, is the leading cause of such a delightful time at the theatre.
Additionally, at the helm is Tammy Colucci, wearing double hats as both director and choreographer, who returns after successes at DHT, having previously helmed Altar Boyz, Xanadu, 9 to 5, and Shrek. While obviously not on stage, her spirit and fervor for the plot and its characters radiate through her direction and choreography. She clearly understands the overall theme of unity and brotherhood, and she delivers these messages through her meticulous direction and choreography. Also along for the ride is Assistant Director Ahnya Chang, a humble soul who has mounted previous hits at DHT, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Camelot, and Calendar Girls. She has previously been seen on stage with leading performances in The Mousetrap and Nice Work if You Can Get It. Furthermore, supporting both those on and off stage and all talents is Musical Director Phil Hidalgo, who is no stranger to the theatre. His musical direction of Disney lyricist veteran Alan Menken's score truly shines.
Winner of eight Po'okela Awards including Overall Musical, Leading Male/Female/Featured Female in a Musical, Musical Direction, Sound/Set Design, Guest Artist (director), Newsies is sure to go down as one of DHT's biggest hits, and a new favorite musical for many, including myself. While the show just closed this past weekend, there certainly is a whole gamut of shows to look forward to in DHT's coming season, including Hello, Dolly!, led by local talent and Tony nominee Loretta Ables Sayre in the titular role as Dolly Gallagher Levi. For tickets and inquires about the season, call (808) 733-0274.