REVIEW- Disney’s Newsies – Broadway San Jose

Dude [dood, dyood, doooooooooooode] – interjection – 1. an expression of shock, approval, sympathy, or other strong feeling. 2. The word Susannah used approximately 137 times during Broadway San Jose’s production of Disney’s Newsies, because OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO FREAKING AWESOME. Prior to Tuesday I was able to count the number of standing ovations I have given on one hand. Dude, this show, this cast, this crew, this set (OH MY GOSH THIS SET IS UNREAL!) got me on my feet for the sixth time in my entire life. Just get your ticket already, DO IT, it will put a smile on your face.

I love this cast. Dude, like, I really love them. I want them to perform every show I see from now on. Chicago? Yes. They could do it. Othello? I bet I would like it if they were cast. Spring Awaking? That one too. Death of a Salesmen?  I’d probably pay double. Seriously, can we make this happen? Can someone get on that, please? If not, can I just put them all in my pocket and pull them out for parties? They’re the best. Not a single cast member phoned it in. Each of the ridiculously talented, impossibly well-cast actors performed flawlessly and were clearly having a blast while doing so. They are present, contagious, charming, charismatic, and down right mesmerizing . Every one of them (that needed to be) was a bonified triple threat. Jack Kelly – exquisitely brash and rustically dashing. Katherine – a quintessential juxtaposition of slightly conflicted demur trailblazer and romantic independent social rebel. Each of the newsies individual and committed to their totally believable characters. Pulitzer – a delicious villain if ever there was one. Even Mr. Jacobi and Hannah nailed their one liners memorably. Everyone counted, everyone mattered, everyone delivered. There wasn’t a single weak link and everyone got to shine with the enthusiasm of a child that just realized they want to be on stage in front of an adoring audience forever!

The show itself had a beautiful combination of everything you could ever want in a show.  Drama, comedy, a swell of pride for a cause, a bit of history, BROOKLYN, romance (WITH BRILLIANT CHEMISTRY), plot twists, tension, stunning harmonies, a kid with some serious moxie, theater inside jokes, gender equality, civil disobedience, a set to make your head spin (HAVE I MENTIONED THE SET!?), and all in less than 2 1/2 hours which FLEW BY! This is also a dance show with numerous powerful, high-quality production numbers from the get go. The choreography isn’t weird, archaic, recycled choreography either, oh no, its exciting, fresh, creative, fun and in many cases totally manipulative of gravity. The synchronicity was impossibly tight, fluid and packed with emotive storytelling. The material and style is so well suited to the skills of this cast it just looks effortless. And, how they move in their costumes without a rib, slip or cap falling off is a miracle in and of itself.

Now… this set I speak of. It’s not just me. It’s award-winning, but this geek was afraid she would set the sprinklers off  as a result of her brain exploding. A million and one high fives please for both the set and lighting designers as well as our skilled-beyond-belief Stage Crew. Let’s hear it for IATSE people (and the cast members that help with scene transitions too). Seriously. There are literally 85,000 things that could go wrong in this show with all the moving pieces, projections and bodies flying about, and absolutely zero margin for error. The stage pictures that are created as a result of the genius design are awe-inspiring and damn near tear inducing. Aside from 1, ONE, chair falling off a table… I saw NO errors. And I was looking. I’m king of a jerk that way. I mean I don’t WANT there to be errors, obviously, but it’s live theater and inevitably stuff happens and its nice to see how a cast and crew reacts when things do go wrong. Frame that call book, give the stage manager a raise, the exceptional technical execution was in a league of its own.

Even the audience was in synch and stellar. On time. Polite. Dude, not a single cell phone out during the show (THANK YOU!). If we had had our way we wouldn’t have stopped clapping for 10 minutes after the first dance number, which not unlike the opening episode of Breaking Bad, you kind of wonder HOW CAN THEY SUSTAIN THIS KIND OF INTENSITY… and then they totally do it again and again (and then some) for 2 more hours.

Standing O aside, other personal milestones this show has accomplished include only the second ever INTERMISSION TWEET OF AMAZEMENT, more CAPITAL LETTERS in a single document than I have ever used before (and I write a lot of yelling emails), as well as the admission that I would TOTALLY SEE THIS SHOW AGAIN. So… for what it’s worth, clearly I was impressed with this one. In case that hadn’t been made clear at this point.

It was an absolute pleasure to be in the theatre on  Tuesday. My admittedly high expectations were met and exceeded many times throughout this production. DUDE; 5 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for an absolutely fantastic production of what  I wish I experienced every time I went to the theater. The bar has been raised. Newsies plays through Sunday, May 15th at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown San Jose.

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