Florida Rep Education’s production of NEWSIES, directed by Kody C Jones, brings the inspirational, high-energy Disney musical to life on Florida Rep’s stage in a tremendous way.
Sawyer True plays Jack Kelly, and I was thoroughly impressed with his performance. Not only was he talented vocally, but he also brought a wonderful emotional maturity to Jack. He exuded the quality of leadership that Jack Kelly has, and I also enjoyed seeing how his relationship with Katherine blossomed and evolved as his character grew. Jesse Massari plays Katherine, and she fully embodied the strength and wit of Katherine. Massari also beautifully executed the frustration Katherine experiences in “Watch What Happens” as she tries to figure out how to help the newsies while at the same time perhaps realizing some of her feelings for Jack.
Crutchie is played by Matteo Occhino, Davey by Brice Kingsley, and Les by Gigi Lieze-Adams; each one of them was wonderful in their respective roles, and I particularly liked seeing the dynamics between these characters and True’s Jack Kelly.
This ensemble is phenomenal. This is the biggest Conservatory production Florida Rep Education has ever done, and this entire cast did an amazing job working together to create a fantastic and cohesive production. Though the entire show was great, the moments where they all joined together, determined to fight for their cause, were incredibly powerful (“The World Will Know,” “Seize the Day,” “Once and for All,” and so on). Directed by their Musical Director, Rosalind Metcalf, the cast harmonizes quite flawlessly in these moments especially. It’s easy to forget how young these actors are because they are so incredibly talented and professional through every aspect of the production. They are all fully committed to their performances, and I appreciate that very much as an audience member.
NEWSIES is one of my favorite musicals (no pressure), and I do have to say… Florida Rep Education more than did it justice. This is most definitely not an easy show to produce because of the magnitude of the cast size as well as the fact that it has several dance-heavy musical numbers (along with so many more aspects; from the set [designed byJordan Moore], to the lighting [designed by Rob Siler], to the choreography [by Kayley Stevens], and beyond), but the cast and crew at Florida Rep have once again come together and created a beautiful, passionate Conservatory theatre production. A lot of work went into making this show what it is, and I give every single person who was a part of this production major kudos. I absolutely recommend getting a ticket before they are completely sold out!
Photo Credit: Joe Dafeldecker