Greenville Professional Houses Season Openers Portend Stellar Year on Stage
BY SANDY STAGGS
Theatres on the autumn calendar put forth their best and most expensive dancing feet for their September season openers, and this year is no exception. Greenville’s professional theatres have raised the bar higher again with stellar productions that portend a year of excellence to come.
Greenville Theatre’s much-anticipated staging of Newsies: The Musical (along with Spartanburg Little Theatre’s Mamma Mia!) is responsible for the Great Man Shortage of 2019 with nearly every male actor in the Upstate eager for a coveted spot as a New York newsboy, leaving smaller houses clamoring for male actors once again.
Based on the 1992 Disney film and written by Harvey Steiner with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, Newsies is set during the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York when Joseph Pulitzer (played here with astuteness and imperious command by Dave DiGeronimo) facing stiff competition and declining revenue, raises the wholesale price of newspapers sold to the young delivery boys who, already displaced and nearly destitute, are powerless.
Or so it seems. Mostly orphaned and downtrodden, the newsies organize under an unlikely leader Jack Kelly (played with heroic aplomb by John C. Leggett) and rebel against the “1 percent” Pulitzer who is staking his company’s profits on the backs of the lowest members on the pay scale.
Jack, also a talented painter, sings in the rousing opening number “Santa Fe” about his dream of leaving New York and heading west as his crippled pal Crutchie (Joel Dupont) prepare for another day of pushing papers on the street corners,
At the distribution site, they meet and partner with Davey (Jack Sterner) and his little brother Les (Shaw Shurley) who actually have a home and a family, albeit a disabled father.
Other standouts include Latreshia Lilly as the boisterous, sympathetic theatre owner and vaudeville star Medda Larkin (“That’s Rich”) and Adell Ehrhorn (“Something to Believe In”) as Katherine, Jack’s love interest who turns out to be Pulitzer’s reporter daughter.
Newsies is a triumphant story of the human spirit about the little guy who stands up the system that has implications and reforms across the numerous industries that employed child labor.
Directed by guest artist Micah-Shane Brewer with music direction by Tim St. Clair, Newsies is an ultra-polished affair that excites, incites and mesmerizes with the wealth of talent on stage.
But my hat in this show goes off to Kimberlee Ferreira and her gang of newsboys (and a few girls) who absolutely dazzled the audience in the extended dance sequence “Seize the Day” at the end of Act One. And just when you think we’ve reached the apex of the show, the troupe fires up the kinetic energy even more when act two kicks off. The sight of these well-oiled powerhouse array of dancers lined up downstage is what I will remember most about this invigorating musical. And the wonderful tap dancing by Jamie Riedy and others. This musical won the Tony for choreography and Ferreira and her pupils deliver in droves!!!!!
Newsies has closed already (I caught the very last performance), but get your tickets now for the upcoming Ken Ludwig Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery comedy The Game’s Afoot opening October 25. For information, visit www.greenvilletheatre.com