Disney’s ‘Newsies’ at the Altria Theater will leave you cheering in the aisles
The Altria Theater is going to be slammed this entire week due to its arrival of Disney’s hit musical Newsies.
Word travels fast in this city, and if you were judging by the heavy traffic the evening shows caused- the buzz was definitely positive.
Disney’s Newsies is based off of the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 that gained public attention through David Nasaw’s book Children of the City: At Work and at Play. The original adaptation of the book was a film made in 1992. Newsies did not receive wide popularity, however, until it hit the New Jersey Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011, which led to the Broadway production the following year.
The national tour of the show started in 2014, which is what brought the beloved musical to our doorstep.
Set in the newly renovated Altria Theater, the show opened on a high note- showcasing both their high-tech backdrop and moving set design. Even more impressive, surprisingly enough, was the jaw-dropping dance sequences and the cast’s palpable chemistry and sense of community.
Newsies productions are known for their stellar dance numbers, and this one did not fail to measure up. It was apparent that choreographer Christopher Gattelli had the cast working hard.
Anyone who knows Newsies came prepared for a tap number during “Kings of New York,” and the cast did not disappoint, maintaining a professional and impressive level of skill throughout the show. Some numbers included the usage of stage combat and partner cartwheels, while others had the performers doing high split leaps and beautiful fouetté turns.
Each dance sequence featured an ensemble, and after every last one a barrage of applause ensued.
One thing in theatre that is stressed is energy, and the entire cast took that to heart. Along with the crisp precision of their footwork, the boys performed with an unbridled energy that kept you awestruck and in the moment.
In the show, the “newsies” consider themselves a family, and the cast took that to heart. If you did not know any better, you would think that the actors playing Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro) and Crutchie (Zachary Sayle) had really been best friends for years. The bond between the two leads and the rest of their paper toting friends was beyond believable, and it held up throughout the show.
Director Jeff Calhoun made a smart decision in casting Barreiro as the lead, as he embodied what a Jack Kelly is supposed to be.
The trope of a ‘bad boy with a heart of gold’ has been done numerous times, but Barreiro performed the role with a freshness that kept you on his side. The actor provided a good mix of New York masculinity and a subtle sweetness that forced you to love him. Barreiro drew us in with having his character grounded, and kept us there with his impressive vocals that rang through the theatre house.
Another good move when it came to the casting was the diversity. A handful of the actors portraying newsies were of an ethnic background, and that definitely caught some positive attention.
Representation is wildly important, and this touring cast of Newsies did a stand up job of doing so.
If you could tell age through talent, no one would believe that the cast was full of young adults. A combination of raw talent and sweat acted as fuel to push this show to a whole new level.
You have four more days to catch the tour in this location- do not miss out on the opportunity to see unadulterated talent showcased so close to home.
Top image: Zachary Sayle (Crutchie) and Joey Barreiro (Jack Kelly) – Photo by Shane Gutierrez
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