Review: Disney’s Newsies

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Disney's "Newsies" at TPAC May 26 - 31 is a highly entertaining musical production your whole family can enjoy.

Disney’s Newsies (May 26 – 31; All ages)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $32.50 – $87.50

The final installment of TPAC’s 2014 – 2015 Broadway Series is on stage this week with the much-anticipated arrival of Disney’s Newsies. This is the first national tour of the Broadway musical that won two Tony Awards in 2012 for Best Choreography and Best Original Score. Based on the 1992 Disney movie, the stage version features a book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman.

From start to finish, Newsies features a lot of high-energy choreography by Christopher Gattelli, and the company boasts several top-notch male dancers — a few who can do back flips across the stage with ease! — that infuse much into the show’s overall appeal. The big tap number at the beginning of Act II (“King of New York”) is a bona fide show stopper and one of the most memorable moments in the show.

Newsies features a fine performance by Dan DeLuca as central figure Jack Kelly. This is DeLuca’s first Broadway touring production, and he gives his character a hefty dose of chutzpah as he leads the newsboys strike while dreaming of a simpler life in Santa Fe and falling in love with Katherine (a delightful performance by Stephanie Styles). Angela Grovey as Medda Larkin vocals shine bright in “That’s Rich,” and Jacob Kemp delivers strong vocals leading the way on “Seize the Day.”

The show does seem predictable at times, especially given the love story between Jack and Katherine. While the choreography’s truly outstanding and at times mesmerizing, sometimes it feels a little more spectacle than sustenance to the thrust of the story, but it’s still highly entertaining as you’d expect of a Disney production.

The story itself is a powerful one rooted in the real life newsboys’ strike of 1899 in New York City when a group of young teen boys stood up for their rights against exploitation by Joseph Pulitzer. It’s a great message for young and old alike to realize the power of what can happen when people — especially underdogs — stand up together to bring about change.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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