As the summer moves on so does Rhode Island’s Theatre By The Sea. The Public Radio’s Bill Gale has caught the newest event, “Newsies,” and he finds a rousing, well played show, perhaps a little overdone, but well worth seeing.
So take a battle between newspaper delivery boys and a major New York newspaper way back in 1899. Decide to turn it into a musical that has a strong point to give and you have “Newsies,” for goodness sake. It would seem to be a pretty difficult project.
But the prime providers of the show, veteran New York pros, Alan Menken, and Jack Feldman as music and lyrics creators and Harvey Fierstein the dialog maker, “Newsies” becomes a rousing musical winner, a show that has lots of fun, and makes a strong point too.
It may be a little overdone. One cutting would have helped. But it is a true winner in spite of itself.
Much of that comes from the positive and strong direction by another veteran, Richard Sabellico, who’s done a number of shows at Theatre By The Sea, all with crisp drive. With Newsies” that means continual and flashing dancing. More than a dozen young speeders roar and drive all over the small theater at Matunuck. These boys, and some girls, really take on racing, leaping, driving performing to music that may not be magnificent but it surely has the cast rolling all the time.
This never-stopping drive makes the show work with vibrancy, and meaning. “Newsies” you see is taken from an actual event back in 1899 when a group of New York youngsters battered back at major power newspaper owners. The kids won. And so does this musical hardball.
Much of that is due to a fine cast let by the ever-winning musical idea of boy and girl struggling, and winning, in the end. That comes from Clay Roberts, a winner out of New Zealand who trained in Australia before moving to the U.S. His combination of a boy growing up fast and sure is first rate.
He’s met in that form by Katie Claire McGrath as the beautiful young woman giving the young man all the vibrancy he needs.
Others of the very large cast work well. Patrick Boll is a perfect mean guy tiring to run that newspaper, and the hell with the news-delivering kids. Dean Cestari is strong as an injured by never giving up kid. And Ebony Deloney, is wonderful as a lady of the day holding her time in a tough moment.
All of these fine performers and a meaningful story make “Newsies” a show worth seeing for both it’s never stopping drive and it’s point made about trying to see the light and power, in the young and upcoming.
“Newsies” continues at Theatre By The Sea through August 10. Bill Gale reviews theater and dance for The Public’s Radio.