Energetic Newsies Lights UP

Williams, Zabilka and Company.

I can’t stop raving about the latest production of Newsies, now lighting up the BofA Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks.  There are only five more performances, ending on Sunday, July 24, so I hope you will stop reading and buy tickets immediately!

If ever there was a musical that hit all the notes, this is it.  Take a real life historical event (the Newsboys Strike in 1899), an up-town, down-town love story and illustrate with hit songs by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman  (I can’t stop “Santa Fe” from running in my head) , and a scenario by Harvey Fierstein that pits the exploited poor boys of New York against a famous, rich Newspaper Tycoon, and you’ve got a sure-fire, feel-good show.

Now, add expert, energetic direction and choreography by Richard J. Hinds, vigorous musicality from the orchestra of conductor Willie Ferguson, and yeoman lighting sound, costuming and properties to augment the young, vibrant ensemble, and again, you can’t miss!

The cast features the talented Wes Williams as Jack Kelly, who becomes the titular head of the nascent Newsies Union who fights against the newspaper’s price hikes. His level headed side-kick (every good musical needs one), Davey, is played by newcomer, Frankie Zabilka.   Katherine (Jonalyn Saxer), a plucky reporter, becomes Jack’s love interest, even as her secret identity is finally revealed.  Also notable is the unfortunate “Crutchy” played by  Nolan Almeida, whose story line shows what can happen to disabled youth tossed on the street in the days before social programs.

The adults round the cast from the self-interested Joseph Pulitzer (Gregory North), to the protective chanteuse, Medda Larkin (Amanda Bailey), and the deus ex machina, Governor Theodore Roosevelt (Ray Mastrovito), who sets everything – and everyone —straight.

This 5-Star Theatricals production continues a long line of Broadway-quality productions.  All technical aspects are top-notch: it is the most fun to watch how seamlessly the jigsaw-puzzle-set pieces designed by Front Row Theatricals slide into place from scene to scene, approximating the excitement of the movie version that preceded the musical. For sheer delight, Newsies is not to be missed.

Newsies has only five more performances at The Kavli Theatre of the B0fA Performing Arts Center; 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks.  The last weekend starts Thursday 7/21 at 7:30 pm; Friday 7/22 at 8 pm; Saturday 7/23 at 2 and 8 pm; and Sunday 7/24 at 1 pm. For tickets, ranging from $38-91, phone (800) 745-3000.  All covid-protocols are observed.