High-Stepping 'Newsies" WW Season Opener PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 June 2017 19:56

Warsaw’s Wagon Wheel Theatre literally burst into its 63rd summer season Wednesday evening with a super-charged production of Disney’s “Newsies.”

Newsies Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw INIn addition to being the WW opener, it is the regional premier of this award-winning musical.

Based on an 1899 New York City newsboys strike, the cast of necessity is filled to capacity with talented, energetic, high-stepping (and kicking and leaping and flipping) young dancers — plus quite a few still in middle school and one scene-stealer age 9.

In spite of a Tony Award-winning score by Disney favorite Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a score of powerfully-voiced principals led by Britton Hollingsworth and Elaine Cotter, it is the continuously amazing choreography that is the real star of this production.

“Newsies” is directed and choreographed by WW artistic director/choreographer Scott Michaels, who continues to incite the question “How does he do that?”

Not only “he,” of course, but the gifted young company (and crew) assembled annually which, in spite of changes and season requirements, is always the very best.

“Newsies” is probably one of the most demanding Disney shows, dance-wise. The young “salesmen” (who include several “saleswomen”) never stop.

Newsies  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw INIt is the tale of orphan Jack Kelly (Hollingsworth), leader of the group of youngsters who sell the New York World, and the protest he instigated when World publisher Joseph Pulitzer (a wonderful curmudgeonly Mike Yocum) raises the price to his street salesmen from 50 cents to 60 cents per hundred.

Kelly, a young artist with dreams of going to “Santa Fe,” and Crutchie (Blake Bojewski), who looks on his crippled leg as a way to sell more papers, are best friends, both determined to stay out of The Refuge detention center.

They are joined by Davey (Evan Kinnane) and his young brother Les (Oliver Pettit) who are not orphaned nor homeless but have become newsies since a work accident found their father jobless.

Newsies  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw INChampioning their cause is Katherine Plumber (Cotter), a struggling female reporter on the New York Sun, who brings their story to her front page. A romance begins between Jack and Katherine but, as in all musicals, the course of young love never runs smoothly.

Before the newsies find a larger-than–life champion (Chris Mahan) for their cause and Jack realizes that New York has more to offer than Santa Fe, a whole lot of singing and dancing takes place on set designer Mike Higgins sturdy urban skeleton.

The production is, as always, solidly supported by conductor/keyboardist Thomas M. Stirling and his nine outstanding instrumentalists.

Newsies  Wagon Wheeel Theatre  Warsaw INThe costume scheme here is primarily drab (street urchins tend to favor brown and gray and industry leaders, black) but designer Stephen R. Hollenbeck gets his glitz on with the girls backing vaudeville singer Medda Larkin (Leanne Antonio) and the less-somber outfits for Katherine.

In addition, all must be super danceable and able to withstand the stress and strain put on them by the athletic requirements of Michaels’ non-stop choreography.

“Newsies,” based on the 1992 Disney musical movie, ran for two years on Broadway. Doubtless it will pop up on stages all over the country after this but the choreography, which will vary from production to production, will never be better — or more joyfully presented — than that which is center stage at the Wagon Wheel Theatre.

“DISNEY’S NEWSIES” will be presented through June 10 at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, 2517 E. Centre St., Warsaw, IN. For performance times and reservations, call (574) 267-8041 or (866) 823-2618 or visit www.wagonwheelcenter.org

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 June 2017 19:03
 

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