Bucks County Herald

Theater review:

Talented cast of “Newsies” includes plenty of Bucks actors

JEAN BRENNER



The cast of “Newsies” performs at the Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, N.J.

“Newsies,” is an American musical comedy-drama first produced by Walt Disney as a movie.

As with many Disney shows, it became a stage show where it continues to be jam- packed with young people, dancing, singing, dealing with conflict and finding resolution.

This popular musical show opened last weekend and continues this weekend at the Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College, in West Windsor, N.J., with very few seats left, I am told.

Disney shows often are big …very big. “Newsies” is no exception. Every show has conflict; this one has dire conflict. Nearly every show has a love story. In this case, the romance is between the young strike leader, Jack Kelly, played so very well by Rob Ryan, a graduate of Villanova University, making his first appearance at the Kelsey, and the young female reporter who comes to the rescue of the newsboys
Bridget Hughes is lovely as reporter Katherine Plumber. Interestingly, Hughes, who appears in many shows and musicals, is also a stilt-walker performer for Six Flags and Macy’s parades and events.

PinnWorth Productions, under the direction of LouJ (sic) Stalsworth, with Kate Pinner as producer, has mounted an exceptional show with a cast almost too large for the Kelsey stage. The young men portraying newsboys behave like roughnecks with few, if any, social graces, and they sing and dance and tumble entertainingly.

Twelve of the nearly 38 cast members are from Bucks County. They make long drives during rehearsal and show weeks to participate, as do their Jersey counterparts. That’s what actors and actress do for the love of the work.

The Bucks County actors/singers/dancers are Lauren Barkman, of Richboro, Charlotte Gougher of Newtown, Jeff Dworkin and Ken Marblestone of Langhorne, Nicolas Fallacaro, Matthew Krauss, Matthew Robertson and Peter Sauer of Yardley, James LeGette and Matthew Snyder of Levittown, and Charlie Gormley and Adam Juraga of Morrisville.

“Newsies” is based on the newsboys strike of 1899, which lasted two weeks and caused the fictitious New York World, to experience a 66 percent drop in sales as its circulation went from 360,000 papers sold per day to just 125,000.

At the turn of the century, there was no television, so people read newspapers voraciously. People devoured the news in the morning and evening papers, and newsboys were essential to newspapers’ distribution. In fact, the afternoon editions relied almost exclusively on the boys, most of whom came from poor immigrant families and sold papers in the afternoons and evenings, after their school was finished.

They bought papers at 50¢ per hundred, and sold them at 1¢ each giving them a profit of half a cent per paper, taking risks deciding how many papers they would sell, since they had to pay for them up front.

But when the newspaper executives decided they wanted more profit, they raised the price of the papers to the boys from 50 cents to 60 cents per hundred. That doesn’t sound like so much now, but at the time, it meant the newsboys barely got by, so they decided to strike …all over New York City.

In fact, the boys and their supporters demonstrated across the Brooklyn Bridge for several days effectively bringing traffic to a standstill, along with the news distribution for most of New England. Not surprisingly, sometimes the results were violent.

Finally, the strike was successful. The newsboys received better compensation for their work, and life returned to “normal.”

The Disney stage version of “Newsies” opened for a trial run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011. A year later, the musical opened on Broadway on May 16, 2012, playing more than 1,000 performances. The song the newsies sing, “Seize the Day,” became well-known and very popular.

Fast-paced and exciting, “Newsies” is highly entertaining with fine singing (although sometimes the 11-piece orchestra overpowered the voices) and there is believable acting and spectacular dancing choreography by Koren Zander. Kudos as well to the set and lighting designer, Robert Terrano, the costume designer, Kate Pinner, and all the fine stage hands who moved the scenery, to the lighting people and everyone who helped to make this musical comedy so pleasurable.

PinnWorth Productions with LouJ Stalsworth at the helm has proven to be a formidable performing machine. PinnWorth will bring “ZORRO” to the Kelsey in the spring.

For tickets, contact the box office between 9 a.m. and noon at 609-570-3333 or visit kelseyatmccc.org.




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