Imelda Staunton’s terrifying turn in ‘Gypsy’ and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’ are among the most memorable recordings of theatre shows in my mind. Along with countless RSC and Opera productions streaming live, theatre has never been more accessible, and now ‘Newsies’ screening on the 19th of February is bringing this hit musical across the Atlantic ocean and into our cinema screens in Blighty!
Based on the real-life newsboy Strike of 1899, this Disney musical tells the story of ‘Jack Kelly’ (Jeremy Jordan), a talented artist and smart mouth rebel who dreams of a life away from the hardship of the streets. After newspaper distribution prices rise at the expense of the newsboys’ the ragged group must join together and fight against the New York World paper and its publishing Goliath ‘Joseph Pulitzer’ (Steve Blanchard).
Boasting a Tony Award winning score from Alan Menken and Jack Feldman teamed with Harvey Fierstein’s witty and fast paced script this show is a joy from Overture to curtain call. The real star of this spectacle however is Christopher Gattelli’s exuberant choreography. Daring, inventive and truly iconic, every movement really shifted the narrative forward providing a clear and concise through line when grouped with all other dramatic device’s. All of this beauty on Tobin Osts’ vast and imposing set makes for an extremely enjoyable evening.
The entire cast are sensational, presenting acrobatic skills galore and an excellent array of voices throughout. I must mention the shows leading man Jeremy Jordan; with a voice like butter on hot toast he commanded the stage with raw strength and versatility. Aisha De Haas was also a stand out as the elegant and brash theatre manager ‘Medda Larkin’. Haas’s comic timing was a stroke of brilliance as she performed the evenings guilty pleasure ‘Thats Rich’.
Although the story itself is very similar to many before it, it doesn’t feel overdone but instead theres an air of familiarity surrounding the piece that puts one at ease. Imagine ‘Annie’ merged with ‘Oliver!’ topped with a smattering of ‘Made in Dagenham’ and you’re there. Yes, it is a crowd pleaser and it’s an extremely well manufactured product, but is that a bad thing?
If I had one gripe it would be that although we’re in the centre of the mean streets of 1890’s Manhattan theres a Disney-esque shimmer present on the stage. I would have liked to have seen a little more of the grit, grime and danger that is reflected by the choreography and the music.
Showing in Cinemas for one day only on 19 February, this is an intriguing and impressive tale of the underdog battling to be heard. A real feel good masterpiece that deserves to be experienced and a show I believe everyone would take something away from.
Reviewed by Jimmy Richards