BWW Review: NEWSIES, THE MUSICAL at Actors' Repertory Theatre Of Simi Valley
In theatre, non union productions are often a hit or a miss. In some cases, large musicals can often be miscast or too large for a small theatre's budget and become a huge miss...however as in the case of Actors' Repertory Theatre of Simi Valley and their current production of "Newsies, the Musical" what we have is a very strong hit!
Based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899 in New York, this newer Disney musical tells the story of Jack Kelly (played by the engaging and captivating Jared Svoboda), a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer (Peter Fair) raises newspaper prices at the newsboys' expense, Kelly and his fellow newsies take action.
And action they indeed take...and high energy, and solid performances! Aside from the 'oopsies' of opening night (a falling costume piece here, a dropped line there, an unmixed balance between singers and orchestra) this is a production not to be missed!
Svoboda leads this production with skill and professionalism, sharing the stage with the ensemble of Newsies, giving intense partnerships with his scene partners, and painting the proverbial picture with his voice during his songs (specifically the popular "Santa Fe").
Within the almost 3 hours of this production (although it seemed less), Svoboda's character Jack creates two prominent and specific relationships with the people he encounters. Fellow newsie and underdog, Crutchie (played by the golden-voiced Noah Canada) and his polar-opposite and love interest and, spoiler alert, daughter of Pulitzer (the dynamic Natalia Vivino).
Svoboda and Canada have a brotherly relationship onstage and it is admirable to see this caring partnership develop. Svoboda's connection with Vivino is explosive and comes together in a climactic moment in the 2nd Act.
As I mentioned earlier, there were some sound issues between orchestra and singers, however it was with Vivino's take and talent on her songs that all of those issues were wiped away. She not only soared over the music...she took flying lessons, rented a jet, and vocally flew over that orchestra resulting in a well deserved ovation.
But, this is a musical about newsies and there are some talented newsies in this cast. One of the hardest working ensembles of actor/singer/dancers within the county. They are the movers and the shakers of the show. They keep the show moving, the set moving (an intelligent and inventive design by Will Shupe), and move superbly within the choreography all with their collective, combustible energy. Kudos to choreographer, Becky Castells for (not only) recreating some of the original production's athletic choreography but also putting her own "Beckyography" into the mix.
To director "George Spelvin", as he is listed in the program...your warmth and brilliance is seen throughout the production. Bravo to you and your cast!
This energetic and entertaining production of "Newsies" runs through April 14 and plays at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. For tickets and information: www.simi-arts.org
Photo Credit: Producer, Jan Glasband