The 1992 live action Disney film "Newsies" is now a splashy Broadway musical, and NY1's Roma Torre reviewed how the stage version compares to the film.
When I first saw "Newsies" last year at the Paper Mill Playhouse, it was highly enjoyable but the musical adaptation of Disney's 1992 film was not quite ready for primetime. The show has since been tweaked and polished to a dazzling family friendly delight; and if not "King Of New York," I have to say it's loaded with some very appealing princes.
Teaming those young talents with starry veterans, Disney applied its winning formula to fine-tune the show based on the true-life story of striking turn-of-the-20th-century newsboys. Alan Menken and Jack Feldman improved the score for Broadway with a few new catchy tunes.
Harvey Fierstein's book is sharper and funnier; the characters even more endearing; and most striking now - the dancing.
Choreographer Christopher Gattelli went to town hiring some of the city's best athletic young hoofers. So not only does "Newsies possess" ample heart and soul, it has legs — dozens of them tapping, twirling and tumbling gracefully all over the stage. Every one of these boys stands out. Special mention to dance captain Ryan Steele who comes close to turning scene stealer.
Director Jeff Calhoun deserves traffic-cop credit for keeping his busy company moving with such finesse on that girdered set.
The performers, in fine voice, led by returning principles Ben Fankhauser, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, John Dossett and Kara Lindsay are better than ever. Newcomer Capathia Jenkins adds a warm presence.
But it’s Jeremy Jordan as the swaggering Jack Kelly who once again takes "Newsies" to new heights. He is a star, yes even a Broadway king, in the making.
At the risk of over-hyping, let's get real here. "Newsies" is not high art and it's not cutting-edge theater. It's a general audience crowd pleaser. And if it does little more than transport you for two-and a half fun-filled hours, then the word on "Newsies" is all good.