Newsies at Segerstrom Leaves Audience Uplifted
Written By: Tamara Philips Newsies
Newsies is inspired by the real-life “Newsboy Strike of 1899, ” which began when newspaper publishers of that time raised prices for newsies—charging a dime more per hundred newspapers. Except this Broadway version of the strike boasts catchy and inspiring songs, an attractive cast, and the best of Tony award-winning choreography with over 31 backflips, spins, leaps and even tap steps! You’ll walk out of Segerstrom Center for the Arts feeling uplifted after experiencing this cast’s incredible energy.
“With the choreography that our cast does, it’s unbelievable they never go flying over the stage, ” says Production Stage Manager Jeff Norman as he points out the sections of the stage that give the newsboys maximum hops during dance numbers. Each newsboy has two sets of identical shoes: one for the majority of the performance and one for the tap dancing during “King of New York.”
From beginning to end, the newsboys are flipping and jumping around—some even landing in the splits! They dance up and down the three-level set of the steel and aluminum towers throughout the show. “These guys rip their knickers constantly, ” says Wardrobe Supervisor Gillian Austin. “They’re all hardcore dance people.” You better believe they wear spandex bicycle shorts underneath to prevent the audience from experiencing another type of show…
The charismatic New Yorker Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro) leads the pack to rebel while pursuing Katherine (Morgan Keene), the sassy newsreporter. Barreiro’s vocal range is impressive, and even more so with the incorporation of the heavy Brooklyn accent in every song. “The accent is ingrained in me, I had experience in [a previous show] to prep me for this role, ” Barreiro says. “But [incorporating it into singing] is hard, it’s just different.”
Newsies not only wows the audience each night on stage, but has the hearts of thousands, many of them being teenage girls—also known as “Fansies.” The official Newsies facebook page reached 100, 000 fans before the show even opened on Broadway. And today, the page has over 320, 000 fans and almost 50, 000 on Instagram. “We have these 13-year-old girls who scream their heads off the entire show, ” Barreiro says. “When we’re on stage it definitely fuels us. If an audience is giving us a lot of energy, we’re going to give double that energy.”
While songs like “Seize the Day” and “Santa Fe” continue to leave the audience awestruck each performance, the North American Tour of Newsies has a few alterations from the original Broadway show. In the original playwright, the audience falls in love with the charming Crutchie (Andy Richardson) in the first act, but then he doesn’t really re-appear until the end of the show after being arrested at a riot. However, with this tour, Crutchie has a solo “Letter from the Refuge” in the beginning of the second act to give the well-liked character more stage time.
“I think we’re a little better from Broadway, ” Norman jokes, “But I’m a little biased.” The 175-person crew has been on tour since October 2014 and Norman continues to work with the cast to put forward a five-star performance every single night on stage. “Really, the coolest thing is how this all comes together smoothly in one package, ” he says. “It’s great.”
As the opening night performance came to an end, it was evident the cast was completely wiped, with drenched shirts and shimmering brows. However, it didn’t stop Barreiro from doing shimmies off stage with a smile and Keene, as cute as ever, from busting out the whip/nae nae dance move.
Newsies will be on stage at Segerstrom Center for the Arts until Sunday, May 29th.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The Newsies are at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Tamara is SoCal born and bred with Dutch roots. With an English degree from Vanguard University, she is thrilled to be part of the LOCALE editorial team. She enjoys reading, eating green bell peppers, petting other people's dogs, and cooking/baking while singing into a kitchen spoon to Broadway show tunes.