BWW Review: NEWSIES at Derby Dinner Playhouse
Within the world of Disney Theatricals, I would argue that Newsies is one of their finest and more unique offerings. As many know, the musical version of Newsies is based on the original movie of the same name which was originally released in 1992. Like many Disney properties, the theatrical division decided to play with the idea of adapting it for the stage. It was originally intended to be a one off production to be sent into licensing (sense then musical adaptions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Freaky Friday have done just that). However, the house of mouse saw something special in this particular adaptation and took the big step of mounting a full scale Broadway production. The rest is history. Newsies is now more popular than it ever was, it has forged its way out of being a cult classic, and is now cemented in the main stream.
As the Broadway and touring productions closed within the last few years, regional theatres were chomping at the bit to secure rights to this crowd favorite, and Derby Dinner Playhouse was no exception. They're very well known and respected for their track record of producing high quality productions and I'm delighted to say that Newsies follows that pattern patrons have come to expect.
The show focuses on a small group of newsboys (many orphaned), working to survive by selling newspapers at the turn of the century in New York City. The leader of their group is Jack Kelly (Blake Graham). When Joseph Pulitzer (Clay Smith) decides to raise the price of papers, and in turn making the newsboys work harder for the same amount of money, Jack and his gang of newsies team up with a reporter named Katherine Plumber (Harli Cooper) to organize a strike against the various newspapers of New York City, in the hopes of forming a union.
Blake Graham as Jack is suave and handsome. He exudes confidence and strong will, while at times showing a softness and vulnerability. His voice is wonderful as well. He plays well with Harli Cooper as Katherine. Cooper's Katherine is smart and witty. She sings beautifully and her solo "Watch What Happens" is a highlight. As Jack's best friend, Ian Doran plays Crutchie was an adorable dorky quality, that makes it hard not to love him. Kylan Ross and Josiah Richardson as Davey and Les respectively have great chemistry as brothers quickly thrust into the world of selling papers. Another standout is Tymika Prince as the dazzling songstress Medda Larkin. Her single solo song "That's Rich" brings down the house.
The rest of the cast is made up of a mostly male ensemble, and every last one of them is fantastic. The choreography by Heather Paige Folsom is complex and wonderful, and through some amazing performers, her work pops off the stage with amazing results. The set is basic, but the show flowed smoothly despite many location changes, so kudos to the cast and crew for making it feel so seamless.
This show is just a lot of fun. It's showy, but not flashy. You never feel like you're watching caricatures, the story is rooted in humanity and authenticity. This is truly something you can take your entire family to, and everyone will have the same level of enjoyment. I would suggest getting tickets soon, as once word of mouth spreads, seats will quickly (and probably already have) become scarce.
Now - May 19
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129