I remember first watching the movie NEWSIES when I was in elementary school. Despite my love of music and theatre, I never really connected with the movie. That is until a trip to New York City with my best friend Michael brought the opportunity to see the show live on stage.
My life was changed forever after seeing the show on Broadway as I became a full fledged “fansie.”
The regional production of NEWSIES at the La Mirada Performing Art Center delivers a high-quality show on par with Broadway and the national tours. While McCoy Rigby Entertainment has made some changes out of necessity, such as the set design, none of those changes diminish the production they put together. The group have once again gathered an all-star team that delivers a level of quality that’s come to be expected from McCoy Rigby Entertainment.
Disney’s NEWSIES, is based on the 1992 film of the same name. The film became a cult classic, despite performing poorly at the box office.
Disney premiered the stage version at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 followed by a Broadway debut in 2012. The show book is written by Harvey Fierstein with music by Alan Menken. The show went on to play more than 1,000 performance and became the fastest show to recoup its initial investment of $5M in just 7 months, becoming the fastest of any Disney musical on Broadway to turn a profit.
The musical is set in turn-of-the century New York City, where we are introduced to Jack Kelly, the charismatic newsboy who must lead a band of fellow “newsies” on a strike against the titans of print. The Newsboys’ strike of 1899 was initiated as a result of the increase in prices of newspapers at the newsboys’ expense. Jack rallies the newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right!
Who better to take the reigns of this production of NEWSIES than Richard J. Hinds. He was the Associate Director of the Broadway run of the show arming him with the knowledge and background to take what made the original production a hit. In the McCoy Rigby Entertainment version of NEWSIES, he serves as both director and choreographer.
The staging and choreography were some of his biggest challenges, as a new scenic design for this show changes everything. He accomplishes this with heart pounding choreography and staging that will have you wanting to jump up on your feet.
Speaking of the set design, I love what David McQuillen Robertson did with this production to keep true to the original Broadway show. We still retain much of the magic of the scaffolding look while also bringing a new flare to that design. While there have been a few regional productions mounted of NEWSIES, very few have been able to take what was on Broadway and bring it to the regional stage as David does at La Mirada Performing Arts Center.
I am blown away with the cast’s ability to become each of the characters. The cast in this production fill each of their roles fantastically, each bringing their own talents that standout in very positive ways. One of those actors is Alex Prakken who carries the banner once again in the role of Jack. Prakken previously played Oscar Delancey and understudied Jack on the 1st National Tour of Newsies. He brings so much to this role from the first notes of “Santa Fe” to “Seize the Day,” he sings with such passion that you feel him embodying that character, and feeling each emotion.
Another talent sharing the stage is Paul Schoeffler, playing the part of Joseph Pulitzer. Schoeffler has appeared in Rock of Ages and recently as Demille in Sunset Boulevard opposite Glenn Close. In NEWSIES he plays Pulitzer with full-throated gusto, a style I’d never seen for that role. At first I wasn’t so sure about the casting choice but by the end I felt that he may actually be the best I’ve seen play that role.
Meanwhile once again Daebreon Poiema brings her immense talent to the stage, this time in the role of Medda. She knocks it out of the park in this role giving us a small reprieve from all the action happening with the newsies. Her voice and skill are a force that can’t be messed with, much like the character she plays in this role.
McCoy Rigby’s Production of NEWSIES at La Mirada Performing Art Center is absolutely a show too see. Whether you’re a fan of the show or you’ve never seen a production of Newsies, you’re in for a treat. The amazing design, production value, and extremely talented cast will have you engaged right from the start for a show you won’t forget.
A strong cast of actors anchors the show including: Alex Prakken (Jack Kelly), Beth Stafford Laird (Katherine Plumber), Josey Montana McCoy (Davey), Paul Schoeffler (Joseph Puliter), Daebreon Poiema (Medda), Travis Burnett (Les), Austin Myers (Crutchie), Michael James (Race), Michael Brian (Splasher/ Spot Conlon), Jesse Graham (Buttons), Tanner Richards (Jo Jo), Steven Agdeppa (Albert), Samuel Shea (Mush/Darcy), Zach Bex (Elmer), Kyle Coleman (Finch/Bill), Andre Darnell Myers (Romeo), Vinnie Smith (Henry), David Smith (Tommy Boy), Nate Odell (Sniper), Brandon Halvorsen (Specs), Chris Villain (Oscar Delancey/Kyle), Patrick Thomas Cragin (Morris Delancey/Mike), Doug Carfrae (Wiesel, SM, Jacobi, Mayor), Steve Gagliastro (Bunsen/Policeman), Marc Ginsburg (Seitz/ Snyder/ Policeman), John Massey (Nunzio/ Roosevelt), Katie Perry (Nun/Bowery Beauty), Taitiama Alvarez (Nun/Bowery Beauty)
Additional Credits: Richard J. Hinds (Director/Choreography), Brent Crayon (Music Direction), Jill Gold (Stage Manager), Lisa Palmire (Assistant Stage Manager), Steven Young (Lighting Design), Josh Bessom (Sound Design), EB Bohks(Make-Up and Wig Design)
Newsies: Book by Harvey Fierstein, Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman
Single tickets for McCoy-Rigby Entertainment’s production of Newsies $14-$70 general; student, senior and group discounts are available. You can purchase tickets online at www.lamiradatheatre.com
- SCHEDULE: Newsie show times are through June 24th with showtimes Wednesday – Sunday
- LOCATION: La Mirada Theatre, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, California
- PARKING: There is ample parking surrounding the La Mirada Performing Arts Center
For more information and tickets call La Mirada Theatre at 562-944-9801, 714-994-6310 or www.lamiradatheatre.com