Last night’s audience at Adelaide Youth Theatre’s production of “Newsies Jr” by the BROOKLYN cast was simply picked up and transported to another era from the arresting start to a raucous and satisfying ending. It was a great ride and the audience loved it! This was entirely due to a combination of boundless energy and compelling drive from a cast working as one.
Direction by Michelle Davy assisted by Matt Smith was tight and meticulous. The marriage of both individual and chorus work to the musical template was deftly guided by Taylor Tran. A veritable barrage of defiant dance routines, choreographed by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti, was big, bold and brash. The sum total of this production was focussed on “Newsies” themes of natural justice and the good fight of right over might. The audience responded with appreciative vigour throughout. The stage set by Serena Cann et al was redolent of a city back block and designed for ease of entry and exits for the large cast. Together with various pieces either pushed or flown in, all settings were effective and appropriate to the action. Wardrobe designed by Serena and Taylor Tran reflected the era to perfection. All things technical were conducted in a professional glitch-free manner.
It was notable that all members of the cast whether delivering a single line or many, conveyed characterisations befitting of the whole. It was an exemplary group effort and I applaud you all. Of the principal characters the two “green” newsie chums, Davey (Bernard Flynn) and Les (Noah Magourilos) both inhabited their characters with aplomb. Medda, the principal dancer/singer was played with mature sophistication by Phoebe Rodger. She delivered a fine “Just a Pretty Face” in concert with her three dancing troupe girls Ethel (Zoey Velianovski), Ada (Isabella Chapman) and Olive (Bridget Tran). Reporter Katherine who, regardless of close family connection was both friend and ally, was given balance and poise by Kiara Linke. I liked her report writing song “Watch What Happens”. Josh McDonald injected a nice touch of ruthless guile as Katherine’s father and newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer. He really looked the part and carried it off in splendid fashion.
Joseph Callaghan as Crutchie took his character on a journey that instantly evoked our empathy. His message to Jack “Letter from a Refuge” was beautifully tempered and delivered. A fine, intelligent portrayal. As the protagonist Jack Kelly, Oscar Bridges delivered an outstanding and commanding performance. He addressed his newsie mob in the same manner he addressed his audience, with measured and assured confidence. His vocal work was sublime especially in numbers like “Santa Fe” and “Carrying the Power”. Well, Carpe Diem! The final number says it all. With this fine cast AYT have not only “Seized the Day”, but have successfully captured the imagination of a very satisfied audience.
NEW YORK CAST Review*
Teagan Garvey as Jack made this role his own leading the newsies in many toe tapping songs as well as showing his acting talent, as a soloist or singing a duet with Katherine. Alessia Charman portrayed the role of Katherine the reporter and daughter of Joseph Pulitzer. Her solo tap dancing and singing allowed her to display a talent that will no doubt be repeated in future shows.
The solid support for Jack came from Harry Ince as Crutchie. He performed believably on a crutch. His solo while writing to Jack from the refuge showed the talent not only in singing but with his presentation of a soliloquy which showed the depth of his voice.
The brains of the Newsies that people looked up to speak for them was Davey played by Damian Lee. This role required him to be somewhat reticent which he achieved and developed the role perfectly. He was also able to show his talent in music and dance.
The club owner Medda Larkin was played by Paige Tran. She was ideal for this role as she added the right amount of glamour along with the backup club dancers.
There were many others that added the zest and high energy including Adam Roling as Bunsen, Ethan Joy as Spot Conlan, Oscar Bridges as Moritz, Bernard Flynn as Oscar, Phoebe Rodger as Dorothy, Kiara Linke as Darcy and Joseph Callaghan as Stage Manager.
* New York cast reviewed by David Evans.