Co-production beings energized performers to White Theatre

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NEWSIES KC Premiere: July 7-29

Opening night was a HUGE hit! And we are 100% sold out for today's matinee, but there are still 12 more chances to catch this outstanding show. Don't miss it!Check out our Instagram story @TheJ_KansasCity for more photos, videos, and looks behind-the-scenes! thejkc.org/newsies #seizethej #newsiesatthej #newsieskcpremiere

Posted by The White Theatre at The J on Sunday, July 8, 2018

By Bob Evans

Co-production premiere runs July 7-29
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The Coterie Theatre and The White Theatre at “The J,” the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, opened their first cooperative effort with the high-spirited, rat-a-tat-tapping Disney musical-comedy, “Newsies” to an entirely sold out weekend run on July 7 for the Tony award winning show that runs weekends through July 29.

This first collaboration proves the successful nature of co-producing a show that relies on both professional and community actors in a venue that allows for greater audience size than The Coterie can provide. The sets, the orchestra, the lighting scheme, the number of cast, the set changes, etc. limit The Coterie, but not The White Theatre at The J. Such a beautiful partnership needs to continue with productions that demand larger auditoriums.

Disney’s “Newsies” only played for one week in a national tour a few years ago through Theater League and Broadway Across America, so those that were not privileged to see the national tour, now have the opportunity to see a new interpretation of the Broadway show that amassed over 1,000 performances.

The Kansas City production features a cast of all-local professional and non-professional adult and youth actors, and will be performed live on stage at The White Theatre at The Jewish Community Center of Kansas City. This production sparkles with the choreography of Jerry Jay Cranford. “Newsies” allows him to both direct this energized show and deliver tap dancing choreography, tumbling and precision moves not generally seen in most Broadway shows nowadays. The dancing alone is worth the ticket price.

Tickets are selling quickly for this limited engagement. Production dates are: Wednesdays July 11, 18* at 7:30p.m.; Thursdays July 12, 19 & 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays July 7, 14* & 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, July 8, 15*, 22 & 29 @ 2 p.m. (NOTE: *Performances with The J’s Open Captioning are on July 14, 15 and 18.)

The story is set in New York City during the reign of newspaper bosses Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolf Hearst and concerns their newspaper wars after the Spanish-American War that drove their publications to the top and caused the term “Yellow Journalism” with their outlandish and sensationalist stories to out-sell each other. Headlines above the fold of the dailies screamed out the news, but it was the newsboys that sold the papers for $.02 cents per paper.

The “newsies” generally were a rag-tag group of children, many orphans or homeless children, working for poor wages and a meager substantial wages. They bought the papers from the newspaper, then sold them on street corners to earn their daily wages.

In actuality, newsies formed a union and followed the format of the NYC Trolley strike. The strike meant sales plummeted for the two newspaper giants of the Sun and the World. Pulitzer and Hearst were forced to negotiate. From there, the accuracy of “Newsies” remains questionable. The story is based on the strike, but not sure the details and story-line follow history.

The production of “Newsies” brought an opening weekend of sold out performances. The Wednesday, July 11 show sold out as well. The show definitely uses its spectacular dance sequences and tumbling runs to keep the audience focuses. The music is strong. Voices for this production are magnificent. Cranford definitely assembled a troupe of singers and dancers to elevate this show to such heights. Probably the entire run will sell out as word spreads.

The story, weak but somewhat engaging, does manage to hold together because of the dance. The acting remains strong through out. Noah Lindquist as Jack, Kelly Urschel as Katherine, and Ron Meyer as Joseph Pulitzer help to create the magic with their vocal delivery and acting prowess. Meyer delivers a mean-spirited villain while Lindquist presents a new-faced hero for Kansas City audiences to enjoy. Urschel displays her great vocal performance and a tap number with the newsboys that is reminiscent of old-time Broadway shows.

As for some other standout performances, Lucas Lowry made his KC debut in “Newsies. Remember that name. He will get traction after this show ends. As for dance, Fisher Stewart (with cigar) kept the audience focused on his tapping and acrobatics. His flips and tapping were stellar. Another strong acting/singing delivery came from Christoph Nevins as Davey. The supporting cast could step up and carry almost any show. Even though her part in “Newsies” was small, the featured performer, Eboni Fondren gave class and style to her main solo. She is dynamic.

Yep, the singing and dancing in “Newsies” was fabulous, and the technical aspects helped drive the show. Obviously, not as spectacular as a national touring company, this production pared down the elaborate sets to a workable, manageable set that flows in and out of scenes quickly. The strong, efficient scenic design added to the production. The lighting gave opportunities to focus the audience of specific areas of the stage and also distract focus while sets were changing.

Most all of the technical aspects of “Newsies” were excellent, the sound was a problem for the Wednesday night performance. The sound was too loud many times; non-existent at times; off and on at times; distracting much of the first act. By Act II, most issues were resolved but still the treble remained far too intense and made some dialogue and notes far too shrill. This hurt the overall production, threw the actors off, and proved an annoyance to the audience–as noted at intermission from comments in the lobby. This problem should have been resolved prior to the show’s opening weekend and definitely resolved before the second week of the run.
The cast is:
Jack – Noah Lindquist
Katherine – Kelly Urschel
Pulitzer – Ron Meyer
Medda – Eboni Fondren
Crutchie – Lucas Lowry
Davey – Christoph Nevins
Les – Ben Renfro, Valen Jurkowski
Snyder, Nunzio, Delance – Jason Coats
Oscar Delancey, Roosevelt, Stage Mgr. – Matthew Henrickson
Wiesel, Mr. Jacobi, Mayor – Eric Moore
Seitz, Bunsen – Chase Kneuven
Bowery Beauty, Nun, Newsie – Maddie Roberts
Bowery Beauty, Nun, Hannah, Newsie – Ashton Botts
Newsies: Amanda Dulny, Ryan Jacobs, Leah Landwehr, D’Andre McKenzie, Maya Momon, Fisher Stewart, Weston Thomas, Jackson Tomlin, Sam Wise.
Brooklyn Chorus: Tessa Brethowr, Bre Elman, Braden James, Zach Kujath, Joseph (Joe) Spor, Taylor Jenea Stufflebean, Drake Taylor, Margaret Veglahn

The production team is lead by Jerry Jay Cranston director/choreographer. His team includes: Pamela Williamson as music director/conductor; David McQuillen Robertson, scenic design; Jarrett Bertoncin, lighting design; Julia Ras, costume design; Bill Christie, properties management; Elizabeth Sampley, stage manager; Christina Burton, assistant choreographer; Megan Segars, assistant stage manager; Justin Dudzik, assistant lighting designer; Fourth Wall Scenic, scenic construction.

The orchestra for Disney’s “Newsies” included Jessica Cos, violin; Parker Stanley, cello; Kenton Huff, bass; Miguel Silva Leon, guitar; Noelle Schlenk, reeds; Cynthia Hartwell, trumpet; Steve Adams, trombone; Drew Szczesny, drums; Brandon Rathburn, percussion; Pamela Williamson, keyboards.

The Coterie & The J’s co-production of Disney’s Newsies will run approximately 130 minutes with one 20-minute intermission and is perfect for families with children ages 7 and older (parent discretion is advised).

Tickets for Disney’s Newsies are $25 for the general public, $18 for J Members and $14 for students. Group discounts and season tickets are also available. Tickets may be purchased online at the White Theater link, by phone to the box office (913) 327-8054 or by email at contact The White Theatre Box Office or by email, boxoffice@thejkc.org, Advance purchase suggested to avoid disappointment at the box office.

 

ABOUT THE COTERIE
Designated by TIME magazine in the top three theaters for young audiences in Nov. 2004 (“groundbreaking…one of the nation’s most respected”), The Coterie has been at the forefront of commissioning new works or adaptations that contribute to the field of theatre for young audiences. More than 50 world or American premieres for all ages have been produced by The Coterie over the last 25 years, during Artistic Director Jeff Church’s tenure, including hosting multiple major Broadway composers and lyricists to shape quality musicals for youth and families. The Coterie is interested in intergenerational conversation, and consistently includes teen programming in its season and outreach efforts. The Coterie’s community programming redefines traditional notions of work for young audiences with its unique dramatic writing programs, teen LGBTQ work, as well as its AIDS/STD education/prevention program, free of charge to 8,000 teens per year, overseen by Executive Director Joette Pelster and a dedicated staff. All these components serve an average of 80,000 per year through over 350 performances. The Coterie also offers acting classes year-round at multiple locations throughout greater Kansas City. Information available atTheCoterie.org.

ABOUT THE LEWIS & SHIRLEY WHITE THEATRE AT THE J

The non-profit Lewis & Shirley White Theatre at The J, built in 2005, is a 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility, featuring the latest amenities in terms of seating, sound and lighting technology, and regularly hosts a mix of top talent from the region and around the world. Called “the best kept secret” in Kansas City’s theatre scene, The White Theatre’s mission is to provide enriching, thought-provoking entertainment that builds on Jewish cultural values, enhancing wellness, meaning and joy for people of all cultural backgrounds.

ABOUT THE J
Established more than 100 years ago, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, “The J,” provides a warm welcome to families of all backgrounds. “The J’s” all-in-one hub for health, learning, and well-being elevates the lives of the community and its Members with programs of excellence in fitness, sports, theatre, cultural arts, senior adult programming, and youth services including summer camps and child development. Everyone can “live up” at “The J,” located in Overland Park, Kansas, and at TheJKC.org.

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Newsies is based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White and was originally produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions. Newsies is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019. Phone: (212) 541-4684. Fax: (212) 397-4684. www.MTIShows.com

Tags: Disney’s “Newsies”, The Coterie Theatre, The J, The White Theatre, The Jewish Community Center of Kansas City, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

Images courtesy of The Coterie Theatre and The White Theatre of the Jewish Community Center of Kansas City, Rich Fabac and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre and The White Theatre at The J., Bob Evans and The Coterie Theatre and The White Theatre at The J.

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