Newsies is spectacular at the Detroit Opera House (Tour) – Review


Those who know me already know that I love Newsies. In fact, I was sorely disappointed when Once (which I did not like) won the Tony for best Musical in 2012. Newsies walked away with Tonys for Best Choreography and Best Score, though it should have won for Best Set, Best Direction, Best Costume Design, and best Lighting Design. It probably should have won Best Musical, but who am I to argue with the folks who thought Once deserved the win since it needed help at the Box Office and future tour.

All that notwithstanding, Newsies arrives on its National Tour in Detroit, and it is as fresh as it was during its first weeks in New York. See my original review here:

What’s different? Well, the set has been adopted a bit for the tour —  its lighter (but still weights 6 tons); the solid wall proscenium for the theater scenes has been replaced by a lighter curtain unit. But Tobin Ost’s remarkable set and Sven Ortel’s projections are there in all their glory. There are also some slight blocking and choreography changes — and one added scene: Crutchie now gets a song in the second act called “Letter from the Refuge” (which gives him something to do in the second act once he’s been snatched off the streets).

To say that this current touring cast is outstanding is an understatement — between the time the show opened in NYC and had trouble casting (some of us had nicknamed it “Man-sies” since the boys were in their late 20’s and 30’s) and now when it really is boy-sies (this cast looked like kids though they aren’t for the most part) and guys flock to auditions — the show has also smartly been auditioning cross-country as it tours to find new, young dancing talent.

And dance these Newsies do — these dancers are outstanding, and Christopher Gattelli’s award-winning choreography is beautiful and ultra-athletic at the same time. Joey Barreiro plays an excellent Jack Kelly and he rivals Jeremy Jordan in every way. He has a terrific career ahead of him back in NYC after this tour concludes. Steve Blanchard is a delightfully full-voiced evil Pulitzer. Morgan Keene acts a clean, simple Katherine that is a joy to watch. The entire ensemble cast earns its salary nightly — where does that energy come from for that near non-stop 2.25 hours on stage? (There is also a 15 minute intermission bringing the show in at 2.5). Jeff Calhoun is my directing idol — and that he took the time to talk to me and advise me on some blocking for Bonnie & Clyde has endeared him even more.

The musical runs at the lovely Detroit Opera House and if you don’t already have tickets (and thousands and thousands of SE Michigan folks already do — this show is nearly as popular as Wicked from an audience point of view) by all means get them.

Newsies continues through Sunday the 27th of December — and tickets are available at Ticket master ($39.00 to $90.00).

Very very highly recommended.




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