“Extra! Extra! Read all about it.” Newsies-kids at Armour Street All Sing and Dance and Can Flip!
Davidson Community Players’ youthful Connie Company opened the 2023 season with Disney’s rollicking musical, Newsies Jr., to exuberant full houses all weekend at the Armour Street Theatre. Every performance was packed. I concur with Friday’s opening night standing ovation! The kids are terrific.
This year, instead of initiating the season with a traditional popular play, the Connie Company opted to produce a musical. It plays well, and is a great choice to bring audiences out of the pandemic doldrums that have dominated the past couple of years. The endearing tale of Charlotte’s Web will open at the end of April.
Director Debbie Lauder, who deserves a huge round of applause, also choreographed Newsies Jr., assisted by her daughter Jillian. Brava! Faced with the dilemma of having to choose only a handful of actors among one hundred youths who auditioned for the play, Lauder selected twenty-nine talented high-kicking, energetic, dancing singers, aged nine to eighteen. They can also act and performed beautifully in DCP’s junior version of the successful Broadway production of Newsies that debuted in 2012.
Griffin Small leads the pack of Newsies as Jack, the most successful newsboy on the streets in 1899. Dylan Underwood plays Crutchie, Jack’s streetwise buddy who hobbles on crutches.
When the publisher Pulitzer, performed by Liam Worth, increases the newsboys’ fees for editions of the paper, Jack is joined by Davey, played by Connor Cooper. He and his little brother Les, performed by Mallory Hixon, lead a strike, refusing to succumb to the greedy raise.
Pulitzer’s daughter Katherine, a budding journalist, is played by Kylee Gauthier. She writes a leading story, published in The New York Times, about the predicament of Newsies being exploited by publishers like her father.
As a journalist myself, I love the storyline based on true events at the turn of the last century. Newsboys were my buddies when I was a young reporter in the early 50s. They opted to surround and protect me from any harm late at night alone on the streets of Mexico City after my paper went to press. I loved them all.
Connie Company’s young thespians brought back fond memories of the indispensable newsboys who hawked the printed pages filled with stories of our work. Although everyone in DCP’s current junior cast plays other roles, they also dance and sing as the troupe of Newsies. And can those kids kick! They jump so high they could reach the sky. They are absolutely, marvelous.
Griffin, as Jack, is an impressive leader. Dylan, as Crutchie, carries his disabled foot admirably, and Mallory plays little brother Les like a pro! She really understands the nature of her role and it shows.
Amelia Rizzardi-Leazer plays Medda, a sympathetic dancehall headliner, Lacey Barns is Morris Delancey, and Anascott Bryan plays Oscar Delancey.
Hayes Russell plays Wiesel and Bill, Malena Lessa performs the roles of Dorothy and Bunsen, and John Harris is Governor Roosevelt and JoJo.
Other actors playing double roles include Margo Tate as Darcy and a Scab, Anthony Dominick as Pat and Snyder, Lindsey Bolster as Olive and Nancy, Lacey Stogdill as Ada and Murph, Emerson Bishop as Ethel and Pigtails, and Anaya Davis as Buttons and another Scab.
Whittier Henry delivers an impressive performance as the outspoken versatile dancer Race. Other Newsies include Kate Brower playing Hannah, Dasha Jackson as Seitz, Bailey Rowles as Spot, Cole Knight as Albert, Maxwell Rizzardi-Leazer as Specks, Carter Bolling as Hank, Jack McRee as Romeo, Anaya Davis as Buttons, Brooks Kammeyer as Tommy Boy, and Juliana Cesena as a Scab.
Clever negotiations between Newsies and publishers bring the story to a successful climax with breathtaking acrobatics, pinwheels, leaps, and tumbles at the end of the show. How could one resist a standing ovation!
If you can still get a seat, I highly recommend a jolly fun afternoon or evening filled with superb dancing in Newsies Jr. at the Armour Street Theatre this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The last production is scheduled for 4 o’clock, Sunday afternoon.
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.