‘Newsies’ To Open At Scharmann Theatre
Wow and double wow to director Julie Costantini, producer Steven Gustafson, and choreographers Jennie Cross and Jordan Spencer for an outstanding production of “Newsies,” presented at Jamestown Community College’s Scharmann Theatre.
The play, written by Harvey Fierstein, with composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, is based on a 1992 film about the 1899 strike by newsboys in New York City.
Briefly, the newsboys, or newsies, make very little profit from the papers they buy and then sell on the streets. When Joseph Pulitzer (played by Jim Foley) decides to raise the price of the papers, the newsies, led by Jack (Skyler Schapp) and aided by his best friend, Crutchie (Chase Smallbeck) and Davey (Titus Miller) and his younger brother, Les (Isaac Sinatra) go on strike. Reporter Katherine Plummer (Marisa Skinner) helps their cause, and actress Medda Larkin (Raelyn Robinson) loans the boys her theatre as a place for a rally. It all goes horribly wrong, with a riot that ends with Jack disillusioned and Crutchie in the hands of Snyder (John Pickett) at The Refuge.
Katherine, now revealed as the daughter of Pulitzer, helps rekindle Jack’s passion for the strike, and the newsies win the day when Governor Theodore Roosevelt (Vince Joy) sees their paper describing conditions at The Refuge. Jack and Pulitzer reach a compromise and the strike ends.
Other cast members, who all did wonderful jobs in smaller roles, include Wiesel, Adam Owens; Bunsen, Steve Wendel; Seitz, Skip Anderson; a woman, Emily Hanson; Oscar Delancey, Scott Costantini; Morris Delancey, Don Hill; Mr. Jacobi, Steve Gustafson; and the mayor, Derek DeVlieger.
The set design helped present the gritty, dark world of the newsies, in contrast to the light, airy office of Pulitzer, complete with plush leather chairs. With the exception of the Pulitzer office, large rolling platforms moved to create everything from theatre seating to fire escapes to Jack’s favorite rooftop. Rear view projections added realistic facades and some terrific visual effects, such as Jack erasing chalk board and writing “strike,” and Jack sketching Katherine on a scrap of newspaper. It was all beautifully done, and never took away from the action, but always enhanced it.
Everyone’s singing was terrific, with never a sour note, but the singing took a back seat to the choreography, which was incredible. Three cheers to Jennie Cross and Jordan Spencer and to the cast who performed the dances. Wow again. My favorite was the number where the dancers tear a newspaper sheet in half and then dance with a piece of the paper under each foot.
I attended the dress rehearsal and there were no programs, so I worked from a reduced font version which was tricky to read and had not been proofed. My apologies if I misspelled a name. There are only two “Bowery Beauties” listed but there were four, so I’m assuming that two of the nuns were recruited.
Also, while every Newsie has a name, I’ve just listed them as they appear in the program, with the exception of the four most prominent, mentioned earlier. Some cast members filled more than one role, but may only be listed once in the interests of space. Also, some players weren’t easily identified by name on stage. I have listed them as they are in the program.
Newsies: Michael Correy, Josh Pike, Dylan Sorenson, Max Hagel, Justin Blakeslee, Brandon Milanowski, Chris Johnson, Caleb Foley, Andrew Delcamp, Jacob Sears, Drake Weatherly, Tristan May, Jordan Spencer, Caleb Roller, Tristan Spillane, Anthony Zampogna, Malachi Livermore, Ethan Sawyer, Hayden Coulcher-Hobbs, Jonah Foley, Holly Isaacson, Claire Pumford, Kayla Walker.
Nuns: Alivia Roehrig, Sam Elleman, Jessica Mack, Amber Grey. Medda’s Bowery Beauties: Kathleen Michalski Emily Hanson. Goons/police Victor Ferandez, Robbie Martiny.
The talent behind the scenes was as great as the talent on stage. Applause for technical director Don Hill; costume designer Jan Braeger, lighting director Scott Barton, audio engineer Graham Riggle, stage manager Skyler Dunlap, and set designers Jerry Costantini and Julie Costantini. Also, rehearsal pianist Julie Livengood, flyboy Riley Gustafson, social media specialist Kortney Young, graphic designer Jody Perrin, publicist Bridget Johnson and chief carpenter Jerry Costantini.
The set was constructed by Don Hill, Scott Costantini, Skyler Dunlap, Joe Sinatra, Andrew Coulcher-Hobbs, Janelle Coulcher-Hobbs, Hayden Coulcher-Hobbs, Jim Foley Jonah Foley, Jen Leister, Jim Butler and Phil Hanlon
You can’t have a successful musical without a top-notch orchestra and that’s exactly what this production has. Beautifully conducted by Mary Anne Harp, the musicians are keyboard 1, Julie Livengood; Keyboard 2, Deanna Cornish; guitar, Kyle Gustafson; reeds, John Cross, Dave Golando; clarinet, Heather Harrison; flute, Amy Cross; violin, Hannah Byard; trumpet, Michelle Battaglia, Brandon Caruso; trombone, Eileen Goodling; cello, Marian Byard; electric bass, Peter Cohen; drums, Brent Isaacson.
See “Newsies” today, Friday, Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., and again Nov. 8, 9, and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. at the Scharmann Theatre. Tickets are available by calling 338-1187 or online at campusstore.sunyjcc.edu. Tickets are $20 general admission, $16 for seniors, $12 FSA students and children and $5 for JCC students.