By Elizabeth Richards
I’m skeptical when a producer gets up on stage and says that the show they’re about to present will “knock my socks off”. After all, what else would the producer say? But in the case of Windham Center Stage’s production of “Newsies”, the show truly lived up to that promise. The incredible pool of local talent this community has to offer was on full display in this show on opening night.
|The cast. Photo courtesy of Nini Bennett|
From the first number to the last, this cast brought exactly the right mood to each and every scene. With a cast as large as this one, activity on stage could have looked cramped and muddled, but large ensemble numbers were impressively coordinated, energetic and evoked a wide range of emotions throughout the show. Voices blended in beautiful harmonies and complicated dance steps were executed with precision and grace.
The set offered plenty of visual variety with various levels, a stage extension, and integration of the cast into the audience on occasion. Set changes were incorporated seamlessly into the scenes. With so many people to watch, it was easy to forget the set was being altered at all, allowing the flow of the show to go uninterrupted.
Though the first act is lengthy, running about an hour and a half, the steady pace and engaging story made it fly by. The second act ran just as smoothly, and the cast never let their energy wane as they moved toward the final resolution. In fact, the curtain call was as energetic and fun as the rest of the show.
Matthew Scala played Jack Kelly with just the right blend of hope and cynicism. He, and all those who played Newsies, brought to life the challenges that children in poverty, with no protection from child labor laws, faced. The difficult choice between making a living and fighting for what was right was clearly demonstrated in the scenes before the strike took hold. “The World Will Know,” evoked anger, frustration, and hope for a better future in a powerful, moving way.
Cecilia Guerra nicely conveyed her character Katherine’s optimism and bravery as she worked to change what was possible for herself as a woman and to improve the situation for the children working to survive.
This is the kind of show that highlights the talents of so many performers it’s difficult to detail them all. Some particularly memorable moments include the perfect delivery of hilarious lines by Alex Tukey as Les, and the touching “Letter from the Refuge,” sung by Will Searway as Crutchie.
“Newsies” runs for one more weekend, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1, as well as afternoon matinees on Saturday, June 1 at 2 p.m, and Sunday, June 2 at 2 p,m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.windhamtheater.org or at the door. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors (62 and older).