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Newsies Jr. - Marloo Theatre

Reviewed by Jordan D'Arcy

 

Newsies Jr., the youth version of Newsies, is about the kids that sell the newspapers (newsies) of New York in the 1890s. In the midst of the Spanish-American war, the costs of buying newspapers to sell to earn a living are increased by Pulitzer and Hearst. The Newsies decide to unionise and strike in response to the rising prices of newspapers.


Director Rachel Vonk and assistant director Oniesha Temby have outdone themselves. The level of professionalism evident in this show far exceeds many adult productions. There was not once during any scene where actors were standing around and waiting for their cue – everyone was engaged in stage business at all times, ensuring the suspension of disbelief was never broken.


David Bell is outstanding as Jack Kelly, with a faultless accent and incredible vocals. Jemima Lee as Katherine Plummer provided a wonderful steady juxtaposition to the grunge of the newsies ensemble with a mature stage presence. Lacey Strother gave an excellent debut performance as Davey. Abby Letts was superb as Crutchie, not once falling out of character – which is incredibly difficult to do when the most pertinent aspect of your character is physical.

This production had one of the strongest ensembles I have seen in a long time – there was not a single weak link in this cast. However, a couple of standouts were Ronan Young as Governor Teddy Roosevelt, Sheridan Alexander as Medda Larkin, and Elizabeth Morgan as Pigtails. Each was scene-stealing.


The only thing letting this production down was some technical difficulties in balancing the sound, we lost a lot of the dialogue in between songs, but this was mostly rectified after Act 1. There were some difficulties in hearing the actors over the band plus the tap dancing during The King of New York.


Musical director Chris McRae and vocal director Rebecca McRae have done a phenomenal job. The harmonies were excellent and well above and beyond what you’d normally see in a youth production. The band (also excellent) was visible at all times, nestled into the back of the stage, but fit perfectly into each scene.


Choreographer Michelle Ezzy did an excellent job of utilising the strong dance ability of a number of the cast members, giving ensemble members who often don’t get the chance to show off their talent a moment to shine. In particular, Jackson Lucas, Peyton Lawrence, Tahli Redgwell, and Ruby Miletic seamlessly covered transitions with the spectacular leaps and jumps you expect from a production of Newsies. The quite advanced tap number was expertly performed by the ensemble.


Costumes by Tashlin Church were perfectly era-appropriate. Devlin Turbin’s lighting design was beautiful – in particular, the moonlight on the gate upstage right was striking. The antique camera (properties by Ellien Warden, Lesley Sutton, and Ray Egan) was a particular favourite of this reviewer.


This production was incredibly strong. Marloo Theatre should be very proud of their cast and crew. If there are still any tickets left it would be a mistake not to get yourself one.


David Bell (Jack Kelly) and Abby Letts (Crutchie). Image Credit: Sean Breadsell

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.

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