‘Newsies’ Try to Seize the Day

Concluding its 2022-2023 season, Slow Burn Theatre Company finaled with Newsies the Broadway Musical at its usual stomping grounds, on the stage at the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale. This musical is famous for its almost all-male cast and its balletic choreography, telling the story of the newspaper boy strike of the late 19th century. With love, brotherly camaraderie, action and a moral compass, Newsies has something for just about everyone. South Florida Theater had the privilege to see two different performances of this production’s run, specifically on the first night of their closing weekend, Thursday, June 22, for this review.

For our hometown company, meaning away from Broadway but still producing Broadway material, I have been continually impressed with their stages, stage design, props, and the interactivity of those things together. As the crowd found their seats before the show, lines of linen were strung across the stage in front of the curtain. Even if the viewer did not know that the musical takes place in New York City, these small indicators reveal that the setting is some kind of urban environment where crisscrossing laundry lines would theoretically exist. Small details make all the difference, in my opinion.

Samuel Cadieux  Company, Slow Burn Theatre Co Disneys Newsies (Photo by Larry Marano)

The show begins with two teenagers, one wielding a crutch to support his crippled leg, singing over top of the lines of linen as they dream about a better life, maybe one away from the bustle of New York City and its newspapers. They gather below a headline board to determine how their papers will sell throughout the day. Again, the year is around 1900. Child labor laws didn’t exist and newspaper giants relied on children to deliver their products. Once they start singing about striking for better rights, things get heated. There’s fights and confrontations and bad haircuts, but you know how these things go: a compromise is struck and the strike ends. Nothing quite changes for the workers, except for an illusion that they are heard.

Kareema Khouri – Slow Burn Theatre Co – Disneys Newsies (Photo by Larry Marano)

Regardless, I was the most impressed with the athleticism displayed by the cast here. I mean, wow. Backflips, handstands, flipping side steps, full arabesque, the list goes on. Special shout out to Albert’s (Austin Carroll’s) moves. I could always count on which one flying by my vision would be him in some contorted position. I also find it necessary to compliment Mickey White’s performance of Davey; compelling voice and determination that seemed to permeate the character. If I had to pick out a criticism here, it is that this performance, with as much movement and dancing as it contains, had more than a few technical difficulties. Small thing, but important enough to note.

For Slow Burn Theatre Company’s next season, they open with Into the Woods. Go support your local company and ensure they keep producing quality content right in your neck of town.

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