Theater Review : Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Disney’s Newsies

Reasons Why You Should Not Miss Disney’s Newsies


Joe Caliro of Globe Live welcomed us all enthusiastically in Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater to prepare us for a grander play like we have never seen before in the country. This project was made in partnership with 9 Works Theatrical , the same team behind other well-known productions like American Idiots and A Christmas Carol. This time, they’re bringing not just another play but a Broadway smash hit, the Newsies by Disney. According to Caliro, this show will set the bar high and will show things that have never been seen in any local theatrical plays. It’s going to be a milestone indeed as this play will have 100% Fililipino cast with GianMagdangal playing the lead character which will also mark his return to Philippine Theater. After watching the show, it seems like it wasn’t a bold claim at all. It is definitely one of the best musicals of the year!


Learning Its Interesting Origin



Newsies is merely based on the 1992 Walt Disney film of the same name starring the young Christian Bale. It was already a musical drama with songs from Alan Menken (the guy behind some of the famous Disney classic songs like Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) and directed by Kenny Ortega. The movie however was panned by critics and was a commercially unsuccessful. Yet it gained a measurable cultural fan based which eventually resulted to a stage adaptation in Broadway which became a massive success and won several Tony Nominations including the Best in Choreopgraphy and Best Score. What makes Newsies even more fascinating is the fact that it is not your typical Disney fantasy films. The movie is merely inspired from real-time events. It was based on an 1899 Newsboys strike against a giant Newspaper company owned by Joseph Pulitzer. It was a successful strike which forced the company to negotiate and settle the issue between them and the strikers. With such an inspiring story to tell and with a touch of magical dust of Disney matched with heartwarming songs and impressive choreography, Newsies is undoubtedly one of the amazing dance musical ever created for Broadway.  Well, not for long because they are finally set to conquer Manila to give us a chance to experience this one of a kind dance musical extravaganza.

From Selling Newspapers, They Soon Became The Headlines!



Newsies is such an interesting David-and-Goliath inspired story between newspaper boys and the Newspaper Company.  It follows the story of Jack Kelly (GianMagdangal) and the rest of his fellow newspaper delivery boys including his best pal Crutchie (Luis Marcelo) and how they try to survive their everyday lives by selling newspapers. They soon met Davey Jacobs (Jef Flores) and his little brother Les (Tory Cortez) who had to force themselves to work after their father suffered from an accident and got terminated from work. Things went wrong when the publisher of the New York World decided to increase the cost of the newspapers to the delivery boys to outsell his competitors. It was unfavorable for the boys which eventually lead to a strike. Despite of dealing with seemingly undefeatable giant company, the strikers remained faithful to what they believe and decided to fight for it. Luckily, with the help of the young reporter Katherine Plumber (Danielle Chopin), they managed to hit the Headlines which became a huge threat for Joseph Pulitzer (Greg Dulcie).

Impressive Choreography And Music That Makes You Feel Proud!



I have watched Disney’s Newsies both the 1992 Movie and the The Broadway Musical (digital movie) and one thing I am mainly concerned prior to watching this local adaptation are the intense and exhilarating dance numbers and choreography. I was wondering on how they can pull it off. Don’t get me wrong but I am an avid fan of 9 Works Theatrical and I’m still find it hard to move on with their Tick Tick Boom and Christmas Carol last December but Newsies is a completely different play. It is not all about songs but they are being matched with energetic dance numbers. Interestingly, the four months of rehearsing paid off and they managed to pull off an impressive choreography! Robbie Guevara was able to bring this musical in our country the way it should be done. Kudos to PjRebullida for those exhilarating numbers that put us all in great awe! There are some differences though.  The “Seize The Day” number for example should have that iconic “sliding on newspaper” part but they somehow took that off and replaced them with other tricky moves. Despite of that, I personally think that they have executed the numbers very well. The energy and the intensity were both there and the fact that they were choreographed by a Filipino and was performed by Filipinos made you even more proud. By the way, the tap dancing part took me by great surprise! (Kudos to YekBarlongay! That was my first time to witness a local play doing a Tap dance and I think they all nailed it).

Great Cast Ensembles and Amazing Set Design



This play will never be successful without the talented actors who managed to portray the role very well. Gian Magdangal gave justice to his character as Jack Kelly and it actually served as a refreshing comeback to local theater after a long hiatus. His big brother role for Newsies was really on point and not to mention the kilig-moments between him and Katherine Plumber (Danielle Chopin). Speaking of Danielle, she was able to unleash her Disney Princess moment though her “Watch What Happens” number. Jef Flores who played the smarty Davey Jacobs and Alex Diaz as Race both nailed their roles while Luis Marcelo as Crutchie and Tory Cortez as Les Jacobs were both the crowd’s favorite that night.  Other cast includes Pinky Marquez (Medda Larkin), Greg Dulcie (Joseph Pulitzer), Raymond Concepcion (Gov Teddy Roosevelt) , Ariel Reonal (Wiesel) and more. On top of the great cast ensemble, we cannot help but to notice the impressive set design. Those movable sets were simply amazing and I love how it transports us from one place to another in just few seconds. The stage however is not really spacious and it seems like the dance numbers were quite limited. It just feels like the dancers can do much better but they just can’t because the stage is too small to move as gracefully as they should but hey they still managed to utilize everything and thanks to Ed Lacson for bringing us back to the old New York.

A Very Timely Musical



Newsies is not just about a story of success. It might be a period musical but it is something that we can all relate. Giant companies taking advantage of their power and influence? Being Underpaid? Unemployment?Strikes?Fake news?Media manipulation? These are the things that most of us are still experiencing which makes Newsies so much relatable to audience of all walks of life. This musical will remind us that we all have our own rights and voices and all it takes is to make some action and take enough courage to fight for what we believe is right! We can all be Davids who can pull down those pesky Goliaths!

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Theater Review : Milton Coyne
Photos : Axl Guinto

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