Thursday, May 3, 2012

Newsies ***

(Please click on the title to see the full review.)
What I should have been more aware of about Newsies is that it is a Disney production, with all that implies -- family-friendly, squeaky clean, lavishly produced, slick, inoffensive, bland. The audience was filled with busloads of teenaged girls who wildly cheered just about everything when they weren't texting. Jeremy Jordan shines as Jack Kelly, leader of the 1899 NYC newsboys' strike. Kara Lindsay is perky as Katherine, the love interest that has been added in Harvey Fierstein's adaptation of the Disney film. The music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, respectively, are unmemorably efficient. The athletic choreography by Christopher Gattelli is performed with brio by a prodigiously talented ensemble. The huge metal multilevel set by Tobin Ost calls too much attention to itself: it moves back and forth, spins and reconfigures itself restlessly. Jess Goldstein's period costumes are fine. Jeff Calhoun directed. If you go expecting something on the level of The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, you will be disappointed, but, if you have a young person in your life, by all means take him or her to Newsies -- it's the perfect starter musical. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes including intermission.

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