Reviewer: Kristine Gotham
Venue: Bay City Players
From the moment you open the program, you know this isn’t going to be just an ordinary musical. Director, Natalie Slawnyk, speaks passionately of her desire to direct this play since the first time she saw it on the big screen. The play was scheduled to be performed in 2020. Covid-19 had other plans and the production was put on hold for two years, until now. Slawnyk finally has her chance to bring tn his wonderful story to the stage. Some of the original cast members returned for this production, along with new performers. A cast of 29 actors, 10 musicians and a tech support team as big as the cast, come together under Slawnyk’s direction, along with Assistant Director, Heather Koch, Music Director, Jim Hohmeyer and Choreographer, Gloria Heye, to present an outstanding production., full of musical numbers and dancing.
Billy Dorsey plays Jack Kelly, a brash young man with a desire to leave New York and head out west to Santa Fe. The only thing holding him back, his family, the other newsies. When newspaper mogul, Pulitzer, decides to charge the newsies more for their daily papers, Jack becomes the defacto leader, with the encouragement of a recent member of the newsie crew, Davey (Kyley Syring), of the newly formed Newsie union. The Newsies aren’t going to take the price hike lying down. They are going to strike and demand that they be considered as an equal member of the newspaper team.
Claire Patterson plays Katherine Plumber, a newspaper reporter, and unbeknownst to Jack, Pulitzer’s daughter. She has been relegated to reporting on the social scene. Katherine meets Jack and believes in the Newsie’s cause. She writes a front-page story, bringing the plight of the Newsies to the public’s attention. Pulitzer responds by hiring muscle to teach the Newsies a lesson. One of those hurt in the altercation is Crutchie (Evan Worden), Jack’s best friend and reason for staying in New York. Crutchie is taken to the detention center for youth. Jack feels that all is lost. He takes some work to make enough money to leave New York for good. There is only one thing that convinces him to stay. All the Newsies have joined together, along with all the other child workers in the city, to rally in protest of the treatment of child workers. Pulitzer meets with Jack in his office. He offers Jack money, Crutchie’s release and expungement of Jack’s “criminal” record if Jack will only vote no to unionize. In the end, Jack chooses to stand up for himself and for the other child workers and demand an equal voice in the decisions that affect them.
This play is HIGH energy, every song is accompanied by a dance number, and the cast delivers that energy with every moment. The set is simple but works perfectly to carry the story along. The costumes accurately reflect the time period. The light and sound technicians did not miss a beat. I am in awe of the caliber of talent in the Great Lakes Bay region, both on the stage and behind the scenes. Newsies is on stage this weekend, July 21-23 and next, July 28-30. Call the Bay City Players Box Office for tickets. You do NOT want to miss this!