Hot off the Presses at Marriott Theatre
With broad New York accents, a group of paperboys light up the stage in Marriott Theatre’s latest addition to their 2017 season, NEWSIES. This show has got it all - wistful dreamers, lovable sidekicks, a love story, raging against authority figures, all in the name of fighting for a better workday. Jack Kelly is a legend amongst the newsies in New York. He needs to use that legendary status to lead a strike against reigning newspaper Goliath Joseph Pulitzer.
With a lovable ensemble of ragtag street urchins, we’re taken down to the streets of New York with dazzling dance numbers and powerhouse anthems led by a stellar cast.
Newsies Take Center Stage
Each of the ensemble members make their characters shine and no one fades into the background. How could you with names like Crutchie, Specs, Mush, or Romeo? However, when they needed to, they all blended into one unified newsie brotherhood.
When it’s time to strike in Seize the Day there won’t be an audience member without goosebumps on their arms. This gang comes out ready to fight with determination written all over their faces. They have just the right amount of scrappiness to get by as street kids, but when trouble comes calling there’s a heightened level of maturity that makes them an unstoppable force.
And while the newsies are the stars of the show, the adults each shine in their own rights. From penny-pinching Pulitzer played by Kevin Gudahl to the glamorous and charismatic Madame Medda played by Stephanie Pope, they all round out the show to add different dimensions.
Legends in the Making
The front men and women of this strike also give us something to reckon with.
Zachary Uzarraga as the young Les has just the right amount of charm and cockiness that makes you believe he could take on the world all on his own.
His older brother, Davey played by Nick Graffagna, is the perfect down to earth kind of guy as the Vice President of the newly-formed newsies union.
Reporter Katherine, played by Eliza Palasz, puts on a strong facade kicking Jack out of her press box and not letting him get in the way of her doing her job. But when it comes down to her solo number Watch What Happens we slip below the surface and find she’s anxious about putting the right words down on paper. By the end, she’s got a fierce determination to show the world what she’s made of to write this story.
All of these characters circle around our ringleader Jack Kelly played by Patrick Rooney. Rooney brings us close into Jack’s inner feelings throughout the show.
We feel his need to escape to those wide, open, sunshiney fields of Santa Fe, and his hopes and dreams of getting away from the crowded streets of New York.
When he starts to feel the consequences of this strike, his pain is absolutely heartbreaking.
He’s fun and cocky when he needs to be, but steps up when he needs to face the music and negotiate with the big dogs.
All in all, the music and story in NEWSIES calls for forceful emotions and this cast delivers across the board with an amazing amount of talent.
Highbeams and High Rises
Though the theater in the round Marriott stage is a tough one to work with,director and choreographer Alex Sanchez made the most of the space. The cast still leaps and bounds across the stage as one would expect from a show known for its award-winning choreography. Sometimes it feels like the dancers might run out of room as they leap across the stage! It actually adds a little bit of heart-stopping fun.
Set designer Kevin Depinet took us between two worlds going from the upper class, cozy, well-decorated business office down to the grimy, gray streets of the paper boys. Steel beams lift up and down on the stage, while platforms rolled on and off to create different dimensions. It gives the audience just enough to feel like we’re moving from place to place without being too overwhelming.
NEWSIES a true feel-good underdog story where these kids are trodden upon and decide to fight back for what’s right. The house will be packed with audience members of all ages. If you’re looking for a night out with the family, the youngins won’t be able to tear their eyes away from the flips and tricks onstage. At the same time, the phenomenal acting and singing from the cast will have the adults gripped from start to finish.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: an excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Now through December 31, 2017
Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., with select Thursday 1:00 p.m. shows.
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Holiday weeks may have adjusted schedules.
10 Marriott Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069