In Arts & Entertainment Reviews

"Newsies" is a high-octane ride through Jan. 10 at the Marcus Center. (PHOTO: Deen van Meer)

Extra! Extra! Bold "Newsies" unfurls at Marcus Center

Although the glory days of the daily newspaper are long gone and all but a few are hanging on for dear life, there is still gold to be mined in the concept of the paper flopping on your doorstep every single day.

Some of that gold landed at the Marcus Center Thursday night for a week-long run.

It's "Newsies," the Tony Award-winning musical that celebrates the plucky young men who bought papers in bulk at the turn of the last century and hoped to hawk enough of them to make a bit of a profit.

This show is high-octane, with the emphasis on the "high." The pedal goes to the metal right from the top and, except for a brief pause or two for sentiment, keeps on speeding through the night until it comes to an end.

"Newsies" has a story guaranteed to hit the "poor child" button we each have in our hearts.

There are a dozen or so young boys who deliver the newspaper on the streets of New York. It's a hardscrabble life, but they make do until Joseph Pulitzer raises the price the boys must pay for the papers.

Angry over this move, the boys decide to strike and boy does that make Pulitzer mad. He will stop at nothing to break the strike, but the boys are determined. That's the story, with a little love interest thrown in along the way.

The musical was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won two: Christopher Gattelli for choreography and Alan Menken and Jack Feldman for best original score. And it has carried that cache onto the national tour which has met with overwhelming audience acceptance.

There is something about this musical that does capture, perhaps unwittingly, the days of the banner headlines and yellow journalism of the time. Everything in it is big and fast and fast and big. You can almost smell the ink that fills the big bold screaming headlines telling you what is going on in the world.

While there are moments of serenity in this parade of young boys, the majority of the time is spent trying to dodge the gale that streams from the stage during the testosterone-fueled song and dance numbers.

The set is breathtaking, a multi-layered three-piece monstrosity that moves and slides around the stage to end up in various combinations that frame the story. And the dancers and singers make full use of this set.

There are twirls and tapping, a pile of pirouettes, flips and cartwheels and speed and flash. If the choreography isn't terribly unique it more than makes up for it with energy and top-flight dancing. I was troubled, occasionally, but a fierce number that came to an end, only to start all over again after the applause died down. But, that's a minor quibble.

What you get with "Newsies" is a lot like what you get with "Annie." The classic "It's a Hard Knock Life" from "Annie" could just as easily be "Seize the Day" here. You've got kids keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of everything bad you could imagine happening to a kid.

There is a slight disconnect here with the boys looking and dancing unlike you would ever see with the childish news peddlers. But they make a ferocious and joyful noise and it's easy to get swept up in the fantasy of this story.

"Newsies" runs through Jan. 10 and information on tickets and showtimes is available here.


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