NEWSIES THE MUSICALMusic by Alan Menken
Lyrics By Jack Feldman
Book By Harvey Fierstein
Texas Music Theatre Company
Director- Reid Horton
Choreographer- Stephen Newton
Guest Instructors- Tommy Bracco, Adam Kapian, Kara Lindsay
Stage Manager- Mackenzie Horton
Lighting Design- Matti Jean
Photography- Megan Nelson Photography
Graphic Design- Amanda Sims Design
Sound Design- Andy Porter
Projections- Lightware Labs
Jack Kelly- Noah Horton
Katherine Plumber- Kyndall Reed
Davey- Ethan Hyatt
Les- Alex Reyes
Crutchie- Braylen Nelson
Pulitzer- Houston Goff
Medda Larkin: Anna Grigsby
Spot Conlon/Splasher: Lauren Benner
Race: Henry Cawood
Albert: Dan Dunning
Specs: Mina Haring
Henry: Jack Swearingen
Finch: Nick Robinson
Romeo: Maxton Rhys Sims
Mush: Alivia Roundy
Buttons: Talya Whiteman
Tommy Boy: Bekah Dunning
Jojo: Catherine Langley
Elmer: Jack Horton
Wiesel/Ensemble: Caden Clack
Seitz/Snyder/Ensemble: Asher deMontalvo
Bunsen/Ensemble: Reese Tisworth
Nunzio/Guard/Roosevelt: TJ Atkins
Morris/Mike: Lane Wall
Oscar/Ike: Aiden Smith
Darcy/Ensemble: Maddie Boyd
Bill/Ensemble: Travis Harper
Hannah/Bowery Beauty/Ensemble: Ashlyn Beck
Bowey Beauty/Ensemble: Bella Lindsey
Bowery Beauty/Ensemble: Riley Hilsinger
Mrs. Jacobi/Ensemble: Karys Walls
Ensemble: Sophia Kelly, Kate Taylor, Chelsea Scott, Mary Cate Griffin, Sarina Hingorani, Landry Luebbert, Katy Rangel, Baylee Long, Riley Hammack, Samantha Ward, Sophia Sutor, Maddie Cox, Kaitlyn Chi
Reviewed Performance: 7/29/2022
Reviewed by Jordan Thomas, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Newsies tells the story of a group of newsboys in New York City who find themselves in a pickle when the newspaper publishers raise the prices of papers overnight at the newsboy’s expense. The newsies join together to strike the unfair changes with the leadership of Jack Kelly with extra assistance from local reporter Katherine Plumber. Most excitedly, this story is told jam-packed with some of the most fun dance numbers and catchy tunes!
Noah Horton was exactly right as Jack Kelley. He carried himself as a leader and interacted with the newsies with genuine care, leaving it no surprise that his past crimes had heart behind them. He paired nicely with Kyndall Reed portraying news reporter Katherine Plumber. Reed was naturally quirky and so fun to watch. Her performance of “Watch What Happens” was a highlight of the night with her powerhouse belting. Another standout was Anna Grigsby as Medda Larkin. Grigsby was the queen of physicality and with such rich tone in her voice.
Director Reid Horton brought together a great team for this all-teen cast summer intensive at TxMCT, which is only a two-year-old theater company. What a surprise to see that included in the production team were three Newsies Broadway cast members, Tommy Bracco, Adam Kaplan, and Kara Lindsay as Guest Instructors! The cast was no doubt encouraged and inspired by the performances I witnessed.
A production of Newsies would be nothing without the right choreographer and Stephen Newton brought IT. I was especially impressed with the intentional choreography for the space. This production took place in a modern church auditorium with several characteristics that made it feel more like a church than a theater. One of my favorite choreography moments was when Newton took a multitude of stairs on either side of the stage, which I have to admit I initially considered dead space, and uniquely created a standout multi-faceted layer of choreography for the ensemble. Throughout each number, the cast was tastefully used to their strengths with a core group of newsies heavily featured, while a rather large ensemble was still used in addition. No matter how many newsies were on stage they worked perfectly together as one fluid unit. Newton pulled out the talents of so many cast members with tumbling, leaps, and turns without it ever feeling like we had seen the same trick in another song. Gold stars go to Henry Cawood as Race/Dance Captain for his exceptional execution of choreography. No matter where he was on stage he drew your eye by accenting the moves just right and pouring out his energy completely through his fingers and toes. Cawood’s vocal chops and prime acting, paired alongside his dancing (especially in tap!) made for a solid performance to remember.
The large group numbers were truly the most memorable part of the production. In these songs, actors brought the fun and energy to every moment, not only with their choreography but vocally as well. While there is no one credited specifically as the Music Director, I am going to assume Director Reid Horton meticulously guided the ensemble to produce such wonderful and dynamic ensemble sound! Unfortunately, what did bring the show down a notch were several scenes in between the large group numbers. A few times it felt as though anything not within music was an afterthought of the rehearsal process. Scenes did drag on, multiple actors were lacking clear enunciation, sped through their lines, or let their volume drop off at the end of their sentences.
Lighting Design by Matti Jean elevated the excitement of the production in many facets. The church venue only provided so many tools and it seemed as though additional lighting was not brought in. There were more moments than I would have liked that left actors completely in the dark. In the opening scene of the show, Jack was predominantly unlit in more than a late-night-rafter-vibe kind of way, while we also lost several moments between Jack and Katherine in another consistently dark spot-on stage right. With the number of cast members in the ensemble, a fair amount of choreography and ending poses happened right in front of the stage. However, the audience struggled to see them because of the lack of lighting. I only wish blocking would have been tweaked to combat the apparent lack of ability to light certain areas of the stage.
Costume Design by Melissa Horton was nice for a camp-intensive production. While everyone was clothed in pieces that fit their characters, it was one step away from being fantastic. I would have loved to have seen the newsies' costumes accentuate that they are homeless and slept on the street with well-worn or dirty pieces. Actors had dirt on their faces but wore noticeably clean and new outfits. Peppering in some worn pieces on the newsies would have also been a helpful visual to separate Davey and Les who would have likely had nicer clothing.
Overall Texas Music Theater Company put together a wonderfully entertaining production from start to finish. Had it run more than one weekend I would have gladly gone to see it twice! There were truly so many beautiful moments, talented dancers, and top-notch singers. I left the theater excited to see what the DFW theater community will become as these teens grow in their skillsets, and even more excited to see what Texas Music Theater Company brings to the table next!
Texas Music Theater Company
805 Keller Pwky Keller, TX 76248
Newsies the Musical played July 28-30, 2022
For more information and to purchase tickets for their next production, go to txmtc.org or call their box office at 405-596-5498.