By Claire DeMarco
In the late 19th century few, if any, child labor laws existed in the States. If they did exist they were at the discretion of each state, often times totally ignored.
It was not uncommon to find young children working in extreme situations to make money in order to survive.
Note: “Newsies” is based on a true story that occurred in the late 1890’s in New York.
Jack Kelly (Ryan Jasaitis) is one of many young boys who sell the latest publications of New York’s major newspapers. They gather at a distribution location, pay for the papers they take and venture off to make a few cents on each copy sold.
When newspaper publishers like Joseph Pulitzer (Jacob Miller) decide to raise the cost of the papers Jack, Davey (Will Cobb), Crutchie (Sam Greene) and the other newsies decide to take action. They organize, declare themselves members of a union and strike!
What was seen as a minor interruption in the daily distribution of newspapers is further escalated through the reporting of aspiring journalist, Katherine Plumber (Marguerite Reed).
When profits continue to slide, Pulitzer and Kelly come face to face to determine a final resolution.
Jasaitis plays the tough guy with a tender side. He is multi-dimensional.
Greene shows his character’s vulnerability and pain through the song “Letter from the Refuge.”
Reed sings a great rendition of “Watch What Happens.”
Jordan Tidwell as Medda Larkin knocks it out of the park with her rendition of “That’s Rich.”
Cobb is effective as the “smart guy” in the newsies’ group, providing insight as well as support as their thoughts towards a union grow.
Miller is convincing as the autocrat he portrays.
Dancing and singing are central to this production and hats off to the entire cast!
Dancing was strong, graceful, athletic, gymnastic and always on point and the singing was emotional, inspirational and sometimes saucy with excellent choreography by Rocker Verastique.
Wonderfully supporting the singing and dancing is the orchestra conducted by Camille Villapando Rolla.
Don’t miss this production of “Newsies.”
“Newsies” is a production of Pittsburgh Playhouse of Point Park University. It runs from February 22 through February 26. For more information, click here.