The John W. Engeman Theater’s cast of “Newsies” commands the stage with its passionate performances, inspirational numbers and high-energy dance sequences. Photos by Michael DeCristofaro.
By Janee Law
Engeman Theater’s newest production, “Newsies,” is filled with passion, inspiration and energy.
Last Thursday night at the Northport Village theater, Woodmere resident Tina Millman was among an audience that was captivated from start to finish. “I think they did a nice job with the scenery, everyone had a terrific voice and the dancing was great.”
The production takes the audience to lower Manhattan and back in time to the newsboys’ strike of 1899. The story follows charismatic newsboy Jack Kelly (portrayed by Dan Tracy), the strong and courageous leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies.’
“Newsies” is based on a 1992 Disney film of the same name that was written by Bob Tzudliker and Noni White.
Engeman’s production is directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Sandalio Alvarez. It features a score by eight-time Academy Award-winner Alan Menken and Jack Feldman that includes powerful numbers like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” “King of New York” and “Santa Fe.”
Last week’s performance had many in the audience grinning ear-to-ear from the start. “Carrying the Banner” sets the tone early on in the show’s runtime, delivering a number that’s action-packed and lively, and that gives the audience a taste of the high-energy performances to come.
Engeman’s ensemble takes things up a notch with exciting dance number “Seize the Day,” to which the crowd couldn’t help but clap along to.
Unlike the film, the musical takes a different approach to the role of the reporter by casting a woman, Whitney Winfield, who portrays Katherine. Winfield’s portrayal of the character is mesmerizing. She delivers a strong and empowering message regarding a woman’s drive to break into a male-dominated field in “Watch What Happens.”
Her journey parallels that of male lead, Jack Kelly, as both characters take a stand against an unjust society and fight for their dreams.
Audience member Alice Tibbert, of Queens, said after the show the two characters were her favorite, praising their chemistry and love story.
Tibbert also noted her satisfaction with the production, adding, “It was full of action, had fantastic dancing, and the songs were great.”
Tracy said after the show that Jack Kelly’s journey is inspirational.
“Jack is the leader, but I don’t think he sees himself as that, he’s like the glue,” Tracy said. “I think the cool part about the show is the journey he takes from a kid who doesn’t know how important he is to a man who understands that he has a voice and can make an impact in the world.”
Tracy added that “Santa Fe” is his favorite number to perform, but also enjoys “The World Will Know” and “Seize the Day,” during which the cast comes together and unites as a powerful front.
“That type of stuff with all the boys is so fun, and I think that a lot of the kids in this ensemble are going to be on Broadway very soon,” he said. “This cast is worth seeing.”
Performances of “Newsies” continue through Sept. 2 at the 250 Main St. theater in Northport Village. Show times are 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 p.m. on Sundays. There are also select shows on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Tickets ($73-$78) are available at the box office or buy them online at Engemantheater.com.