Disney’s ‘Newsies‘ Is King of D.C. This Holiday Season at Arena Stage. Recently, I took a short road trip down to Washington D.C. to check out Disney’s Newsies presented by the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. I had previously interviews one of the cast members, Chaz Wolcott, for the show and was excited to witness the show in person after hearing so many wonderful things about it. The stories did not do it justice, but more on that later.
If you are not familiar with the Tony Award-Winning musical, Newsies is an inspiring story about kids who fight for what is right at the turn of the century, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein. Inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City, this family-friendly musical follows the story of newsboys and newsgirls who dream of a better life and lead a crusade for justice. Just in time for the holidays, the score features fan favorites, including “King of New York,” “Carrying the Banner” and “Seize the Day.” Newsies, directed by Molly Smith, with choreography by Parker Esse and music direction by Laura Bergquist, will run November 1-December 29, 2019 in the iconic in-the-round Fichandler Stage.
The theater itself is gorgeous and breathes life into the street corner it resides on. A welcoming beacon of warmth and welcome the second you pull up. The friendly Valet Staff greeted and welcomed us to the Arena Stage and that same energy and care was shown to us by every staff member, from will call to usher.
We arrived early to take a short tour of the lobby and the Fichandler Stage before the other theatre goers arrived and we are so glad we did. On our instagram you can find a video I shared of an interactive touch screen that allowed audience members to read all about it, well, about the show at least, in a fun and interactive way.
The ushers showed us to our seats and handed out programs for the show. Inside showcased the cast and crew with special mention of the donors supporting the show in various fashions. Each story was fascinating and learning about the individual actors helped to make us feel more drawn into the performance. You can learn about them as well by visiting arena stage.org.
The stage is set in-the-round, meaning there was seating around every side of the stage for a 360′ view of the show. Two movable staircases, were utilized for various functions throughout the performance, helping to create distinct scenes and identify locations through the show. Cleverly featured in the center of the stage was an elevator used in a variety of different ways, creating a “roof” for the start of the show, lifted slightly off the floor to create a platform now and again, and to help visualize smaller rooms throughout the performance.
The floor of the stage was painted to look like a brick/cobblestone road which helped to set the scene and immerse the audience into the story. The “roof” of the elevator was painted to match and was nearly impossible to tell apart from the rest of the floor when it was lowered completely.
The entire cast was electric. I frequently heard the term “high octane” from other audience members who were blown away by the energy throughout the entire performance.
The real scene stealers were Daniel J. Maldonado (Jack Kelly), Erin Weaver (Katherine Plumber), Josiah Smothers (Les), Nova Peyton (Nun/Medda), Luke Spring (Elmer/Scab/Ensemble), and Jamie Smithson (Teddy Roosevelt). It was clear to see why Daniel and Erin were cast as our leading man and lady, and nailed their performances while never losing energy from start to finish. Josiah charmed the audience as Les and frequently had the audience in stitches with his snippy one-liners and innocence, all while keeping up with the other performers through the entire show.
Nova’s powerful voice filled the room and her presence was immediately felt when she would hit the stage. Her performance alone deserved a standing ovation, Brava! In my interview with Chaz Wolcott he had mentioned young Luke Spring (16y/o) and how he would “knock our socks off’ with his tap dancing skills, and Chaz was not wrong! The entire theater erupted after Luke’s incredible solo performance during “King of New York”. In a role meant to be a pivotal moment in the show, Jamie did not disappoint to bring Teddy Roosevelt to life and create an instantly lovable character. He caused smiles to break out all across the audience and cheers upon his exit.
After the show, we enjoyed a wonderful reception with an array of desserts and hors d’oeuvres. My personal favorites were the lemon cheesecake and s’mores cup. Before the show I had stopped at the bar in the lobby and purchased a Newsies cup as a keepsake from the show. I am so glad I did, plus it came with a non-alcoholic drink!
We sincerely enjoyed our experience at the Arena Stage and look forward to visiting again for some of our favorite shows to come. If you live in the D.C./Baltimore area we highly recommend you ‘Seize the Day’ and get your tickets before they are gone! You will not be disappointed by this spectacular performance.
CLICK HERE to check availability and order your tickets to see Disney’s Newsies presented by the Arena Stage.
Do you have plans to see the show? Which Disney Musical is your favorite? What is your favorite piece from Disney’s Newsies? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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Featured Photo Credit: Arena Stage