A Review of Newsies

I saw Newsies twice. I went to watch the show on Friday night and the matinee show on Saturday.


Newsies was a successful show, and while the Saturday show was riddled with technical problems–mic static being the nemesis of the production–the Friday show proved that the stage crew is very talented and capable of running a show.


The cast was a lot of fun to watch. Their dancing was well-choreographed and thoroughly entertaining. The notable side roles were well played. I really enjoyed watching the kid that played Albert and whoever played the cigar guy (I actually cannot remember the character’s name).


JT O’Reilly’s leading performance as Jack Kelly is strong, and his ability to sing is pleasant. He was in most of the scenes and was almost always a central part of every musical number. His performance was the most consistent between the two shows, and I respect him as a professional. He’s a great actor.


Elizabeth Moldovan played Kathrine Plumber with palpable confidence. Her solo number, “Watch What Happens,” was a lot of fun to watch, partly because of her vocal talents, but also because she manages to switch between contrasting emotions in an engaging and entertaining way. 


I don’t want to spend too much time on Tom Glasmann’s Pulitzer because I am a friend of Tom’s. I understand that there might be a bit of bias in the following statement: Tom was, by far, the most engaging actor to watch. His first number, “The Bottom Line,” is my favorite scene in the show. Tom’s vocal and physical performance is a lot of fun and he commands the power in that scene with ease.


The most shocking performance in the show was given by Lila Stein, who played Crutchie. Crutchie, as the name suggests, is bound to a crutch due to a bum leg. Dancing on a crutch is hard, I imagine, and while there were times I caught Lila using her bum leg to fly in some of the harder stunts, she played it pretty well.


The orchestra played to the best of their ability. To my untrained ear, they might as well have played it perfectly. Nothing of note here to add. They were just good.


Now, there’s an awful lot I have to say about the script, which I will not blame on this production but rather the hack at Disney that wrote it. Everything following this sentence will be spoilers and not directed to any theater kid, so stop if you care.


Newsies is one of the most generic stories ever written. Watch as we brainlessly follow Jack Kelly, a mutt with artistic talent, as he rises up against the oppressive Pulitzer. During this, he meets Katherine Plumber, a stuck-up rich girl, and they fall in love and fall out of love and then back in love, and they win in the end.


Jack Kelly is, perhaps, the most boring protagonist in the history of protagonists. I cannot find a single individualistic trait in his character.


The history behind Newsies is really interesting and it reflects the large-scale working reforms of that time, but instead of using that history to write an engaging story, it was written to be agreeable, and I think that’s the script’s biggest problem.


I would like to share something I was told after the show, “Brent, in your article, you should say, ‘Newsies? More like Commies!’” I thought that review was funny.


I did not enjoy the music. Yes, the people playing in the orchestra pit were playing well and the actors have wonderful voices, but the choice of music is strange. For a period piece, why is so much of the music modern pop? There are times when the music fits the setting–the slick jazz numbers and war-like marching songs come to mind–but they are often intercut with that poppy trash.


My gripes with the script aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching Newsies, and I will continue to support the PCHS theater troupe because they are excellent. I wish good fortune and health to all of them–specifically to my friend Zack, the guy that ran the show’s sound. He was very sick during the production. He told me he took four Tylenol during the Friday show. Two during acts one and two during the fifteen-minute intermission. He’s a real soldier.


Enjoy the following photos I took in the lobby of the show.


Elizabeth Moldovan, Katherine Plumber’s actor, tried to photobomb the Roosevelt picture. She failed. My brother, however, succeeded.