Newsies brings audience to its feet at Clowes Hall

NewsiesTheMusical_Indy's Child MagazineAs a musical theatre junkie, I’m embarrassed to admit that I somehow missed seeing the Disney movie musical, Newsies.

My first glimpse at this show, which was adapted into a Broadway musical, was during a Tony Awards broadcast several years ago. I remember very clearly watching the turn-of-the-century New York newspaper boys fly across the stage, spinning precariously on their torn papers. They made my jaw drop.

{In case you need a quick plot refresher on the show, here you go: “Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right. The plot is inspired by the real-life ‘Newsboy Strike of 1899,’ when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers.}

Seeing the Broadway Across America production on stage at Clowes Hall was an even more thrilling treat, and an awesome way to end a gorgeous, sunny March Tuesday!

Here are four reasons I loved Newsies at Clowes Hall:

NewsiesTheMusical_Indy's Child Magazine1.) Infectious Disney Music

How did I not know that Alan Menken wrote the score for this? WHERE HAVE I BEEN? As I opened the program and saw his name, I got excited butterflies. He’s the beloved composer behind Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Enchanted and Tangled, just to name a few. His catchy tunes, along with Jack Feldman’s clever (and sometimes mile-a-minute) lyrics, were charming, and explained why this score was a Tony Award winner. The opening song, where the protagonist Jack Kelley wistfully sings of his desire to live in a happier, more peaceful place (“Santa Fe”) made me realize how sickeningly good Menken is at selling the “greener pastures” story through a protagonist’s “want song.” I could hear echoes of Audrey’s “Somewhere that’s Green,” and Ariel’s “Part of That World.” I was so impressed with the vocal power in the cast, especially Joey Barreiro as Jack Kelley, Zachary Sayle as Crutchie, and Kaitlyn Frank as Katherine. They brought the fun music to life with skill – and sounded amazing even AFTER dancing their feet off.

I will say – it is not fair to the rest of us that anyone can have that much talent. But it is awesome to watch and hear.

2.) Power to the People

As a former news reporter, I loved the glimpses inside the news business more than a century ago, when the printing press wielded incredible power and prestige. (I kept imagining how Mr. Pulitzer’s head would simply explode if he could see into the future, and get a glimpse into how quickly—and sometimes, irresponsibly or even stupidly—news is shared in today’s smartphone-driven world.) The show is inspired by the “Newsboy Strike of 1899,” and shines a spotlight on empowerment for overlooked and mistreated workers, from the newsies, to child laborers in factories, to the female reporter struggling to be accepted as a hard news journalist. The“David and Goliath” story that made headlines back then is still compelling stuff, even 117 years later.

3.) Gravity-defying Dancers

I knew there would be great dancing in this show. I didn’t know there would be moments that prompted double-takes, gasps, and even an audible “Holy s%#*!” from a nearby patron. If you see the show, keep your eyes peeled for flying gymnastics stunts that you will swear should not be possible without a trampoline, complex choreography that takes place all over the set’s eye-popping three-story scaffolds, and an adrenaline-filled dance finale that is worth the price of admission.

NewsiesTheMusical_Indy's Child Magazine4.) The Cute Factor

At one point I counted more than twenty attractive, talented young men dancing on stage.

I don’t think it’s necessary to expand upon this point except to say, thank you!


MORE INFO: Newsies at Clowes Hall will play through this Sunday, March 20. Tickets are on sale now and available in person at Clowes Memorial Hall, the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at, or by phone at {800} 982-2787.


Trisha Lawless
Trisha Lawless
Trisha Lawless is an Indianapolis-based corporate communications advisor and freelance writer who began her career as a television news journalist. She enjoys performing in local theatre productions as her schedule permits, and has appeared in roles with Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis Civic Theatre, and BobDirex. Trisha and her husband Ben are proud residents of Indy’s Historic Irvington neighborhood where they live with their children (middle school through college age) and Golden Retriever.

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