By Carsie Mendoza
Musical theatre is a big part of my life. From the numerous original cast albums downloaded on my phone and computer to the varied assortment of memorable quotes from Broadway shows that serve as motivation. So when the live-recorded production of Newsies came out in select movie theaters February 16th, 18th, and 22nd, I knew that seeing it was a must.
Newsies is a musical based on the New York paperboy strike in 1899 and deals with the harsh realities of that time when children were trying their best to survive by working for companies that had no concern for their well-being. Additionally, it covers something that is becoming ever more relevant in today’s society: the desire to have your voice be heard in a world ruled by elites that only have personal interests and the struggle to keep voices raised when everything is against you.
Live-recorded productions of musicals, especially ones that have a huge following like Newsies does, can either be a hit or a miss. On the hit side, it gives people who are die-hard or newcomer fans the ability to see it without breaking the bank. Additionally, the musical in question will be better received by the audience as a whole due to the audio-video technology being used to make the resonance of the actors and scenes come off stronger. On the miss side, these musicals can reduce their value by the overuse of special effects to prosper better in a movie theater environment, getting rid perhaps of the original sentimentality.
So when I stepped into the theater, I was crossing my fingers.
Turns out I didn’t have to.
While the Newsies did use special effects, they used them only sparingly which helped to truly emphasize the emotion of the scene at hand. For example, when Jack Kelly, the leader of the Newsies, runs away after seeing his friends be beaten by the New York City Police for striking against Joseph Pulitzer, their boss, the transitions to show Jack’s manic state, as well as his fears coming true, is quite effective.
The actors and actresses themselves, who were the originals from the show’s Broadway and tour run, were excellent. The ones who specifically stood out in this were Jeremy Jordan, who played Jack, and Kara Lindsay, who played Katherine. Katherine is an intelligent, outgoing, self-confident reporter who helped the Newsies’ mission of having a say come to fruition as well as Jack’s love interest.
The chemistry these two actors had was amazing playing off each other with ease. In addition, their voices complemented one another’s to a tee, sounding completely in sync.
This was definitely something that I would recommend to anyone, regardless if they are musical theatre fan or not. This musical helps us to understand the power we have as individuals to make a difference in our world. Newsies says it best: we all must “Stare down the odds and seize the day.”