A High-Flying "Newsies"
By Skip Sheffield
It’s not easy getting to the Arsht Center in downtown Miami, but for “Newsies” it is worth it. This spectacular Disney song-and-dance show has a short run through Sunday, Feb. 8 in its premiere engaement. Opening night Feb. 3 was completely sold-out. There is nothing like a Miami audience when they like something. What a thunderous noise for the curtain calls!
“Newsies” has special meaning for me because newspapers have been a significant part of my world since age 12, when I got my first paper route.
The paper boys of “Newsies” are street vendors; the kind who yell “Extra, extra, read all about it!” The Disney Theatrical Production, with book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menkin and lyrics by Jack Feldman, was based on the 1992 Disney movie, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.
Life was tough for these boys, many of whom were orphans. The scenario is similar to the musical “Oliver!,” with a bunch of ragtag boys being exploited by a venal older man.
The villain in this case is famed New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard). While he is remembered as the namesake of the coveted prize, in this story Pulitzer is a greedy, cheap son of a gun. When Pulitzer arbitrarily decided to raise the cost of 100 newspapers to newsboys from 50 to 60 cents, the bravest of the boys, Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca), incited fellow newsboys to strike rather than pay the increased price (and reduced profit).
There is a side plot concerning Jack, who is a talented artist, and Katherine (Stephanie Styles), a crusading young reporter who takes up for the newsboys’ cause. Also on their side is theater owner Medda Larkin (Angela Grovey, who gets her own showcase number).
Another historical figure, Teddy Roosevelt (Kevin Carolan), who was then Governor of New York, figures prominently in the story.
More important than the story are the catchy songs, and even more important than that is the high-flying dancing by the acrobatic Newsboy chorus. In all it is a very satisfying Disney experience- about as true to real life as Disney World.
Tickets start at $26 at TicketMaster or www.arshtcenter or by calling 305-949-6722.