BWW Previews: NEWSIES at White Theatre
Next up at the White Theatre is a joint production with Crown Center's Coterie Theatre of "Disney's Newsies;" a live stage musical version of the 1992 musical film. "Newsies" recalls the real-life New York newsboys' strike of 1899.
This will be the first Kansas City locally generated production of "Newsies" with both direction and choreography by Kansas State University Assistant Professor and well-known performer Jerry Jay Cranford along with musical direction by Pamela Williamson.
The 1899 strike was called over wholesale price increases to young street vendors. The strikers even managed a blockade of the Brooklyn Bridge for two weeks. Real newspaper return concessions were forced from the publishers of The New York World.
From the above kernel of history, "Disney's Newsies" sallies forth. Playwright Harvey Fierstein makes up his own reality of the incident out of mostly whole cloth.
That said, "Newsies" is a whole lot of fun. It earned 2012 Tony Awards for best original score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and for best original choreography by Christopher Gattelli.
"Newsies" is athletic, gymnastic, and dynamic. Director/Choreographer Cranford says the level of dance and gymnastic talent in this cast is beyond what he could have expected.
The theatrical property is leased from Musical Theatre International. MTI is providing a first time New York prototype setting eventually intended to follow the show to additional venues. A steel tower on the stage recalls "Newsies'" original Broadway and tour set designs.
Leading the newsboys will be Noah Lindquist as Jack Kelly. Lucas Lowry plays disabled newsboy Crutchie. Jack's love interest is Kelly Urschel as revolutionary investigative reporter Katherine Plumber. Ron Meyer plays publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Eboni Fondren is vaudeville theater-owner Medda Larkin.
In the show, Katherine turns out to be the idealistic daughter of the accused robber-baron publisher Joseph Pulitzer. It makes for great theater, but I would be remiss not to point out that Katherine is pretty much an invention. Katherine Pulitzer died in 1884. Joe Pulitzer was infirm by 1899 and not present in the city for the strike.
Remaining "Newsies" cast members are Christoph Nevins, Eric Moore, Ben Renfro, Valen Jurkowski, Mathew Henrickson, Chase Kneunven, Jason Coats, Maddie Roberts, and Ashton Botts.
The Newsies are Sam Wise, Fisher Stewart, Ryan Jacobs, Jackson Tomlin, Weston Thomas, Maya Momon, Leah Landwehr, James Fenoglio, D'Andre McKenzie, and Amanda Dunly.
The Brooklyn chorus is Drake Taylor, Tessa Brethowr, Braden James, Joseph Spor, Taylor Jenea Stufflebean, Bre Elman, Margaret Veglahn, and Zach Kujath.
"Disney's Newsies" opens on July 7 and runs through July 26. The White Theatre is at the Jewish Community Center, 5801 W. 115th Street in Overland Park.
Tickets are available at www.thejkc.org or by telephone at 913-327-8000.
Rehearsal photos by Alan Portner.