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Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's NEWSIES at Meridian Theatres at Centrepoint

Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's NEWSIES at Meridian Theatres at Centrepoint

Proof that all good things come to those who wait.

Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's NEWSIES at Meridian Theatres at Centrepoint Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Orpheus Musical Theatre is back!

Not only is Orpheus finally back, but it may even be better than ever. For its first production after a pandemic induced hiatus, Orpheus chose Disney's Newsies: The Broadway Musical to lead its three-show 2022-2023 revival season. The musical is based on the 1992 feature film which, in turn, was based on actual events. Newsies tells the story of New York City newspaper sellers in the 1890s, who responded to increasing prices by staging a strike that halted the distribution of newspapers for almost two weeks and ultimately led to better pay for the newsies, who were often children. A relatable topic: with skyrocketing food prices and the threat of a recession looming overhead, today's audiences can read our local news to hear about the impact price increases are having on people already struggling to feed their families.

Orpheus' sets (Jillian Foebel) in this production seem to be more luxurious and of better quality and functionality than I've seen in the past. With large set pieces being wheeled into position around the stage or lowered from the rafters, the overall staging seemed to be of professional quality. In particular, Mr. Pulitzer's office was beautifully staged, with a gorgeous executive desk and cathedral windows that divided the space from the rest of the stage, providing a more intimate office setting. The incorporation of a projection screen into the backdrop was useful for some elements, such as writing the daily newspaper headlines. However, when the screen was used for backdrop imagery, it only occupied a small portion of the overall background and ended up feeling rather amateurish.Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's NEWSIES at Meridian Theatres at Centrepoint

The cast consisted of many fresh faces, as well as a few repeat ones. The two main leads, Mason Timm (Jack Kelly) and Meg Barbeau (Katherine Plumber) had fantastic chemistry that made them a lot of fun to watch. Kelly's character veers from a brawny tough guy to a charmer with a hidden sensitive side, but Timm was able to manage this balancing act with ease. Adrien Pyke and Hayden Chesser were both great as Jack Kelly's right-hand men, Crutchie and Davey, respectively. Although, vocally, the cast was capable all around, Chesser's vocals were consistently excellent, which is unsurprising as Chesser has ten years of theatre experience. Likewise, Carmella Gehrels (Medda Larkin) and Paul Melsness' (Joseph Pulitzer) experience was evident in their performances. John Iziomon played Les, the littlest newsie, with such gusto that the audience just lapped up his performance. With that kind of charisma at eleven years old, I can't wait to see him develop further in future roles.

Review: Orpheus Musical Theatre's NEWSIES at Meridian Theatres at Centrepoint Newsies has choreography (Niamh Webber and Morgan Coughlan) that traditionally focuses heavily on athleticism and this cast was able to deliver. Two members of the ensemble that really stuck out were Benjamin Craig-Browne and Alexandra Sinha, with the former being a classically trained ballet dancer. The costumes (Sarah Marks) were fitting for the era and matched my recollection of the Broadway musical. As they were dancing, some cast members did seem to have a little trouble holding on to their hats - literally! The orchestra, led by Terry Duncan, also did a phenomenal job. I constantly gripe about sound at the NAC, but the sound here (John Cybanski) was perfect.

Overall, this is a wonderful, high calibre production and just proves the old adage that all good things come to those who wait. So, if you want to seize the day, click here to get your tickets for Orpheus' production of Newsies, in performances through November 27th at Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe.

Photos by Maria Vartanova.




From This Author - Courtney Castelino


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