Like the chord struck within all of us when an underdog defeats their foe, the David and Goliath parallels in Paramount Theatre’s NEWSIES resonate deeply.
But it isn’t just the poor’s struggle for equal rights that is hitting all the right notes in this performance. From the stellar ensemble, to the electrifying orchestra, to the breathtaking production, Paramount Theatre’s NEWSIES is right on key.
Paramount Theatre Gives Us a Story of All for One, and One for All
From the moment the curtain rises, we feel the enormity of New York City weighing down on Jack Kelly (performed by a magnetic Alex Prakken) and Crutchie (a heartbreaking Michael Kurowski). Reaching the stars seems impossible, and Jack and Crutchie dream together of a southwestern getaway. As the sun rises and the delivery boys rise for the morning grind, a pervasive sentiment of family and community is felt. The young men greet each other, cracking jokes and making the best of an otherwise dismal situation.
Cut to the Goliath of our story, Mr. Joseph Pulitzer (played very sinisterly by Bret Tuomi). He meets with his team of business associates in a lavish office to discuss profit margins and bottom lines. We see how the sausage gets made in terms of cutting costs, raising projected sales, and zeroing in on dollar signs without taking the humans behind the operation into consideration. And with one fell swoop of a pen, the lives of delivery boys all over the five burroughs is put at risk.
With the threat of lost wages on the horizon, this team of highly polished performers kick the show into high gear. We all feel the stakes being raised. The threat of scabs and disunity seems unlikely. From bringing down political Tycoons, to attacking an impressive Tap number, this ensemble as a whole leaves no one behind. That being said, the performances of a few ensemble members, namely Jordan De Leon and Nich O’Neil, stuck out to this writer as truly captivating, their big number performances filled with the spirit of their unrelenting attacks on Big Business.
William Bowles’ larger-than-life scenery and Joe Burke’s nuanced projection design intertwine seamlessly, taking us to that magical New York City of the turn of the 20th century as seen by those left in the gutters. The two mediums intertwine through music and scenic shifts in a delicate duet that always supports the storytelling, in the opinion of this writer, a fellow stagecraft professional.
While NEWSIES takes place in New York City, it’s a story for Chicagoans too. The struggle of the working class to overcome adversity is a tale as old as time. The performers remind and inspire us to work together in the face of our systemic foes, and that we are all stronger when we work together.
NEWSIES is especially a top pick for lovers of talented performers in the musical genre.
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
Warning: strong haze is used throughout the performance
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Jack Feldman
Book: Harvey Fierstein
Director: Jim Corti
Alex Prakken, Michael Kurowski, Koray Tarhan, Nathaniel Buescher, Daniel Font-Wilets, Evan C. Dolan, Nich O’Neil, Christopher John Kelley, Jordan De Leon, Jonny Stein, Grant Carriker, Ivory Leonard IV, Anthony Avino, Tom Avery, Jarais Musgrove, Joe Capstick, Travis Austin Wright, Drew Porrett, Luke Halpern, Justine Cameron, Kevin Corbett, Ken Singleton, Vasily Deris, Bret Tuomi, John Gurdian, Ryan Dooley, Ann Delaney, Neil Lee Friedman, Michael Ehlers, Jerica Exum, Katherine Lee Bourne, Haley Jane Schafer
Choreographer - Joshua Blake Carter
Music Director and Conductor – Tom Vendafreddo
Set Designer – William Boles
Lighting Designer – Victoria Bain
Sound Designer – Adam Rosenthal
Projection Designer – Joe Burke
Costume Designer – Jordan Ross
Props Designer – Jesse Gaffney
Stage Manager – Matthew McMullen
Assistant Stage Manger – Maegan Burnell
Electronic Music Designer – Ethan Deppe
Dialect Coach – Susan Gosdick
Fight Choreographer – Bobby Wilhelmson
Assistant Director & Casting Director – Trent Stork
Production Manager – Jonathan D. Allsup
Thru October 20
Wednesday at 1:30pm and 7pm
Thursday at 7pm
Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 3pm and 8pm
Sunday at 1pm and 5:30pm
8 East Galena Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60506
About the Author:
Heather Sparling is a Chicago-based storyteller, collaborator and lighting designer. She received her BFA in Lighting Design from Boston University. Since then she has worked all over the country in theaters large and small. While living in New York, Heather worked full-time on the production staff for St. Ann’s Warehouse. In Miami, she was employed as Lighting Supervisor for Florida Grand Opera. Since moving to Chicago 6 years ago, Heather has designed lighting for over 30 productions including La Havana Madrid and The Fly Honey Show. For more information on her design work, visit Sparling Designs Website.