Newsies at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre
Excitement fills the Troubadour Wembley Park on the opening night of Disney’s Newsies. The multi-award-nominated Broadway musical makes its debut in London with enviable energy: an exhilarating spectacle of group choreography.
The newsies of New York, boys and girls, children and adolescents, who take the papers from the publishers to sell them on the streets, are a crowd living at the edge of society, underpaid and without stable homes. At the end of the Spanish American War in 1898, there’s a sharp decline in interest for printed news and, to make up for the lack of profit, Joseph Pulitzer (Cameron Blakely) pushes up the price of the papers for the newsies, who are now seriously struggling to survive. The cost and working conditions are at their limit, so the underage army unexpectedly form a union and go on strike to challenge the men in power.
The history makes for an uplifting lesson, as the newsies’ revolution at the end of the 19th century proved that a unanimous group with clear objectives can move mountains. The show adds the romanticism of a tender relationship across enemy lines, and some characters sometimes get lost in the loose plot, however, the driving force and primary focus is the cast – loud and clear from the beginning, when they swarm the stage from every side in a banging opening dance number. The beauty of the modern Troubadour theatre lies in the magnitude of the space, and director/choreographer Matt Cole makes total use of this by placing some of the performers in the aisles, on the lateral platforms, running and passing newspapers. The main action occurs on the wide stage, but the whole auditorium feels alive and brimming with energy. Much of that verve comes from the dazzling choreography, a smashing success of coordination and acrobatics, each artist playing an important role in this orchestration of movements. King of New York is a stomping hit, with mid-air leaps and a frenzied tap sequence, while The World Will Know is a catchy, upbeat hymn.
Moya Angela, as Medda Larkin, gifts the audience a potent rendition of That’s Rich, while the depth and warmth of Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, in the leading role of Jack Kelly, is evident throughout. Morgan Large’s tall and dynamic set complements Mark Henderson’s lighting design, which switches from warm and dim to cold and dramatic.
Exciting and exhilarating ensemble dancing and a vibrant score make Newsies a definite addition to any musical theatre wish list.
Photo: Johan Persson
Newsies is at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre from 29th November until 19th February 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: