Headline: A Newsie Success
With hearty songs and tightly choreographed dance numbers, Diamond Head concludes its season with critically acclaimed hit musical Disney’s Newsies. The production was based on the film of the same name released in 1992, which was inspired by the true events of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. The strike was in response to New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer raising the prices that the newsies must pay from his distribution centers.
Taking place in 1899, newsie Jack Kelly (Nicholas Amador) is the de facto leader of the newsies of Manhattan- boys who buy paper from the distribution center to sell across their city. Mostly orphaned and/or homeless, the newsies make their living by selling papers (or “papes,” according to the vernacular from the show) and then use part of their earnings to buy a new round of papers at the start of each day. The newsies only buy what they must be able to sell- the distribution centers do not buy back the newspapers the boys are unable to sell. One morning, at a distribution center, Jack meets Davey (Kai Durkin) and his little brother, Les (Rocco Bechirian), who are both there to sell papers because their father had been let go at his job. Jack sees the potential in Les to sell papers based on how young and cute he is, and thus shows Davey and Les the ropes to sell papers in their city. Meanwhile, the publisher of the New York World, Joseph Pulitzer, wants to outsell his competitors. Thus, he increases the cost of the newspapers to the newsies, marking them to sixty cents per hundred papers. With the help of up and coming reporter Katherine Plumber (Kira Stone), the boys protest against the World, becoming embroiled in a tug of war with the police, strikebreakers, and Pulitzer himself, all in the name of fighting for what they believe is fair.
Visually, the production is a treat. The set by Willie Sabel looks fantastic, detailed, and is quickly able to transport us to where the story needs us to go, from Jack and the Newsies’ “apartments” to the World to a vaudeville-style theatre. Dawn Oshima’s lighting design works hand in hand with Sabel’s sets, elevating both the characters and locations in strong and creative ways. Karen G. Wolfe, costume designer, and hair/makeup designer Linda Lockwood, also deserve a round of applause for creating such a unified ensemble look while also remaining dynamic enough that personality shines through on each and every character and newsie. Last but not least, prop designer Christina Sutrov has designed and gathered a wonderful array of props, most notable the newspapers themselves (including stacks that were incorporated in the choreography) and an antique looking printing press!
Director/Choreographer Tammy Colucci and Musical Director Phil Hidalgo have assembled a cast that can do it all to the nines- sing, act, and dance. I am constantly impressed with the level of performance Diamond Head Theatre produces. With Amador blazing the way ahead for his cast, the entire ensemble works and operates much like how the newsies are presented- as a team. Singing delightful harmonies, forming stunning phalanxes, and tapping their hearts out, the entire cast should be proud of their efforts in this production. Witnessing the level of performances from this company alongside the work of their designers, it is no wonder that Diamond Head Theatre has such a strong and loyal audience.
The second and final extension to DHT’s summer show, Disney’s Newsies, has been added effective immediately. Disney’s Newsies now runs July 13 – August 12. Shows are Thursdays - Sundays (except for opening and closing week). Evening shows start at 7:30PM for Thursday - Saturdays. Sunday shows are at 4:00PM and Saturday matinees are at 3:00PM. To buy tickets, visit: https://www.diamondheadtheatre.com/buy-tickets.