Review: ‘Disney’s Newsies’ by Encore Stage & Studio at Kenmore Middle School Theatre

Encore Stage & Studio’s “Theatre by Kids, for Kids!” is currently showing the Disney musical, Newsies. Based on the 1992 movie, and inspired by the real-life newsboy strike in 1899, the story takes place in New York City and follows a group of youths as they fight against a paper price hike that threatens their livelihood. The David and Goliath-esque face-off features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and book by Harvey Fierstein.

Cast of ‘Disney’s Newsies.’ Photo by Cindy Kane Photography.

The cast and crew are composed primarily of kids, following Encore’s mission to ensure that theater lives on through our children by involving them in all aspects of the projects from “page to stage.”

Director Elizabeth Pringle has done a remarkable job conducting the 40-plus person cast on one stage. Newsies is a song and dance-heavy show, which can complicate staging with so much young talent, but Pringle, along with Choreographer Anneke Collins, weaves the performers very naturally to never overly crowd the stage, while still utilizing the whole cast and giving everyone a chance to shine. And shine they do. 

Kyle Dalsimer plays Jack Kelly, a diamond in the rough of sorts who becomes the reluctant leader and voice of the newsboy’s movement. Dalsimer has a powerful voice and natural command of the stage that suits Kelly’s unabashed flirting and bravado. But he also displays the character’s soft side and longing in his song, “Santa Fe.”

Kelly’s best friend, Crutchie, is played by Logan Neville. Neville is brimming with hope and positivity as the disabled newsboy with a heart–and voice–of gold. 

Brothers Davey (Garrett Rinker) and Les (Nasim Abdul Khaaliq), are new to the scene but quickly make friends with Kelly, who sees Les’ innocence and spunk as an angle to sell more papers. Khaaliq is adorable as the young Les and offers up many hilarious moments with his charisma and charm.

Kyle Dalsimer and cast in ‘Disney’s Newsies.’ Photo by Cindy Kane Photography.

Emma Kiely-Hampson portrays the newsboys’ sole supporter in the news industry, and Kelly’s romantic interest, Katherine Plumber. She has a lovely soprano voice and sings the sweet duet, “Something to Believe In,” with Dalsimer’s Kelly.

Newsies is full of multi-layered harmonies and all the vocals were beautifully done (nod to Music Director, Sarah Markovits) in company numbers like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Kings of New York.” Coupled with Collins’ challenging choreography, the cast of young artists wowed the audience time and time again.

The full cast, in alphabetical order, includes: DJ Bartly (Mush), Faith Blevins (Frieda Weisel), Matthew Bloss-Baum (Bunsen/Youth Newsie/Goon); William Choi (Mayor/Mr. Jacobi/Nunzio), Carson Cullen (Oscar Delancy), Laurie Dacus (Snyder), Kyle Dalsimer (Jack Kelly), Kason Daniels (Jo Jo), Jane Gerrard (Bowery Beauty/Hannah), Alana Gibson (Splasher/Bowery Beauty), Sean Gilley (Seitz/Weisel), Sierra Hoffman (Race), Erich Izdepski (Roosevelt/Stage Manager), Evelyn Izdepski (Bowery Beauty/Ike), Moira Jamberdino (Elmer), Juliette Kane (Youth Newsie/Sally), Nasim Abdul Khaaliq (Les), Emma Kiely-Hampson (Katherine Plumber), Henry Mason (Albert), Sarah McBurney (Darcy/Newsie), Shannon McCarthy (Medda Larkin), Josie Morgan (Romeo), Amanda Nell (Finch), Kyler Neville (Henry), Logan Neville (Crutchie), Eli Nygaard (Spot Conlon/Specs), Garrett Rinker (Davey), Declan Roberts (Tommy Boy), Xander Tilock (Bill/Youth Newsie/Goon), Madeleine Tyler (Mike/Bowery Beauty), Emmie Vajda (Bower Beauty/Newsie), Dani Vernon (Buttons), Dahlia Vicens (Bowery Beauty/Newsie), Tilli Widenhofer (Morris Delancy), and Youth Newsies (Rory Crider, Eliza Froemke, Will Hemmens, Marie Jackle, Meadeline Kirchoff, Allison Kleinberg, Katerina Larrick, Ali Link, Sydney Payne).

The musical focuses on the atrocities of child labor and poverty, while highlighting the power of those who show strength, resilience, and standing together for what is right.

Encore Stage & Studio’s production of Newsies shows the blossoming talent of many local young artists. The performances are striking and truly speak to the dedication and skill of the Encore team. Congratulations to the cast and technical team for an impressive production.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Disney’s Newsies plays through July 28, 2019, at Encore Stage & Studio performing at Kenmore Middle School Theatre, 202 S. Carlin Springs Rd. Arlington, VA. For tickets, go online.