Newsies: The Broadway Musical (excerpts)

Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2019 By: Julia Polinsky Source: Rockland Review

The Westchester Broadway Theatre has been producing dinner-theater musicals for decades; over 200 productions have graced its stage. They've presented some excellent shows, but sometimes, their enthusiasm outweighs their abilities. Well, your reach should exceed your grasp, they say, and Westchester Broadway Theatre reaches high and far with Newsies: The Broadway Musical. Under the direction of Mark Martino, there are some excellent moments, but mostly, it's good enough to be entertaining but not breathtaking.

Alan Menken and Jack Feldman's singable songs and Shea Sullivan's energetic, athletic choreography decorate this feel-good story of kids and triumph. You need young dancers to do those leaps, those splits, those exuberant, athletic moves, and those dancers need to be extraordinary to make the dances work. Individually, they're pulling out all the stops, putting it out there, doing everything they can do to sell a story. Collectively, the ensemble work needs to be tightened up a bit.

The standouts: Daniel Scott Walton as Jack, the leader of the newsies and the strike. Clearly first among equals in the ensemble pieces, he also gets the best songs, "Santa Fe" in particular, and lead parts of "Carrying the Banner" and the love ballad, "Something to Believe In." The charming and delightful Mary Beth Donahoe is simply terrific as the plucky, perky Katherine, the girl reporter who supports the strike in every way, but also may be hiding something. Her "Watch What Happens" is just great, and her part in "King of New York" is the best moment in the show.

Other excellent performers: Galyana Castillo as Medda, who owns a burlesque house and befriends the newsies; she does a terrific song-and-dance turn in "That's Rich." Patrick Tombs as Crutchie sings and dances with a splendid, gritty determination, and touches the heart in his solo number, "Letter from the Refuge." Aliah James stands out in the ensemble for the knockout excellence of her dancing. Stephanie Eve Parker's turn as the head of the Brooklyn newsies is terrific. Alec Cohen turns in a solid performance as Davey; as Les, Davey's little brother, Benjamin Wohl nearly steals the show.

Costumes by Keith Neilson evoke time and place and still let the dancers move. Steve Loftus does what is possible with the Westchester Broadway Theatre's space, always a cross between challenge and opportunity.