It's not often that a musical will present a truly magnificent combination of elements to perfection, but Disney's Newsies is nothing short of that. Featuring breathtaking choreography from a hugely talented cast, alongside a multitude of magical surprises that just keep coming, there's not a moment to miss.
From entering the auditorium, the atmosphere is set, as clothes are draped across lines, and metal scaffolding creates the industrial city feel. The entire space is being used throughout, allowing for every seat to be a good one, and hold a unique experience that is up close to the action. Everywhere you turn, there is a part of the story being built- so much that it almost certainly warrants a return visit (or several) to capture it all.
Michael Ahomka-Lindsay does a sterling job of playing charismatic artist, Jack Kelly, who, while dreaming of another life in Santa Fe, leads his pack of Newsies as they distribute the papers around the streets of New York. Realising their method of sharing the press is essential, a hike in the price to acquire the goods to sell brings revolution, as plots to strike rise. Fresh to the job, Davey (Ryan Kopel) and Nesim Adnan as his little brother Les, who brings lots of personality, despite his size, befriend the group, and assist in co-founding the ideas behind the plans, bringing some great character contrasts into the mix. Another notable mention is Matthew Duckett as Crutchie, but it simply isn't possible to go without praising everyone involved in this production, particularly each of the refined and gifted performers on stage. Although there is always lots occurring from every angle as the cast utilise each aisle and platform to its capacity, the overall narrative is memorable, and easy to follow.
Undoubtedly, the incredibly impressive choreography is the highlight of the production, developed and directed by Matt Cole. Without giving much away, there is a constant stream of unbelievable synchrony running through the cast, with a large helping of acrobatics amongst other styles. The craftsmanship that goes into the detailed creation of this is something that can and must be admired by anyone: regardless of your taste in theatre, it is impossible not to be in total awe when watching this masterpiece unfold before you. Two mid-show standing ovations brought the audience to their feet nearing the end of act one, and both in response to the staple number 'Seize the Day'.
Several of the tracks in the show- the music by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Jack Feldman- are brilliantly composed, and will ensure you want to listen again. 'King of New York' is especially catchy! Moya Angela takes on the role of actress Medda Larkin, and demonstrates her vocal control in her solo, 'That's Rich'. Michael Ahomka-Lindsay holds his own during 'Santa Fe', and Bronté Barbé plays Katherine Plumber, exhibiting a stunning voice in every note she sings; the duet with Jack, 'Something to Believe In' is utterly beautiful.
Newsies is faultless and full of frequently unexpected tricks that maintain thorough engagement throughout. It is one of the most technically skilful pieces out there, so if you're seeing anything in London at the moment, make it this- you certainly won't regret it.
It runs until 16 April 2023.
Review: Hannah Crouch Photo: Johan Persson