GHS production of Newsies charms our reviewer
By Megan Wirts
Photos by Mark Sweers
Extra! Extra! Grant High School has done it again! This tiny town is a treasure trove of talent!
Their production of Disney's NEWSIES is fantastic! The story is based on the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899, when two young newsies along with many destitute and orphaned children bravely stood up to the newspaper publishers that threatened their livelihood. This cast, under the direction of Lukas Sweers, breathes new life into this tale of courage, triumph and hope for the oppressed on the stage of the Grant Fine Arts Center.
The cast is led by the amazing Keegan Kendall as charismatic Jack Kelly. Kendall brilliantly shows us Jack's tender side in songs like "Santa Fe" and his toughness and tenacity throughout the show, leading the way to a better future for he and his newsie family. Songs like "Once and For All" with lyrics that say, “This is for kids shining shoes on the street / with no shoes on their feet every day,” “This is for guys sweating blood in the shops / while their bosses and cops look away.” This show is a love letter to those that have fought for a better tomorrow.
Alongside Kendall is a crew of newsboys and girls, like the heart string pulling Elayne Montambo as the lovable Crutchie. Montambo shines during her solo "Letter from the Refuge" bringing this theater lover to tears. Meghan McKnight plays Davie, the new kid with the brains that helps Jack to form the Newsboy's Union and organize a strike, bringing along adorable little sister Les, played by the scene stealing and absolutely delightful, Zahara Chuchoque. McKnight's vocals are inspiring on "Seize the Day", and Chuchoque's timing and talent are undeniable. Then there is Aaron Zimmer as Race. Zimmer brings the swagger and energy, making us believe he really is "King of New York". The entire ensemble of newsies is filled with energetic acrobats, dancers and excellent voices. Bravo!
The cast is filled with many shining stars! Brighton Fries not only played the part of early feminist and rebel reporter Katherine Plummer perfectly, but she also choreographed the show! Her spunky spirit is felt and her beautiful vocals are as bright as her name in her solo number, "Watch What Happens' ' and her duet with love interest Jack. Fries' high energy choreography makes this show something spectacular to watch.
Another bright spot in the show is the lovely Raven Wirts in the role of Medda Larkin. Wirts brings her sultry, bold voice to the part of the sassy and compassionate theater owner that gives refuge to the young newsies. Joseph Bowman also stands out in the role of the publisher Joseph Pulitzer, you will love rooting against him, even if he has the voice of an angel. Then giving the crowd a history lesson, Mr. Devon Conley, brings Theodore Roosevelt back to life right before our eyes for a moment.
The pit of musicians, lighting, sound and entire crew help make the show flow smoothly and do a phenomenal job!
The entire cast and crew is bursting with talent! I sat in awe of the young stars on that stage and can only imagine what great things the future holds.
"Each generation must, at the height of its power, step aside and invite the young to share the day." Theodore Roosevelt (NEWSIES)
You can catch the remaining shows at the Grant Fine Arts Center Friday March 6 at 7pm and Saturday March 7 at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are available online at the Grant Fine Arts Center or at the box office.
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