Review Round Up: Newsies, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Find out what critics have had to say about the London premiere of the musical.

Credit: Johan Persson

The Guardian: *** “Director Matt Cole builds a Jerome Robbins-style choreography from clenched fists and delicate jetés, stamped feet and dizzying pirouettes. It creates a sense of collective action, and the flashier moves mirror their wisecracks, but these occasionally acrobatic routines are oddly unemotional. There is a handful of soaring anthems (stirring music by Alan Menken, generic motivational lyrics by Jack Feldman, brassy punch from Nigel Lilley’s orchestra) and strong solos by Moya Angela and by Bronté Barbé as a rookie reporter who falls for Kelly. Barbé’s screwball energy matches Harvey Fierstein’s snappy book, which could have deepened their romance.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “While this underdog tale doesn’t have the most sophisticated of narratives, I can absolutely see its themes resonating with audiences, particularly its inspiring message that the next generation of social justice warriors can change the world. We could do with that hope right now – and with a huge, spectacular show which proves, once and for all, that musical theatre is good for the soul. Seize the day and get your tickets while you can: Newsies is going to be hitting the headlines for all the right reasons.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “The high-energy performance however, is met with a relatively subpar plot, with many characters feeling underwritten and forgotten about. The brief sparks of a romance between Jack and Katherine (Bronté Barbé) are touched upon slightly, and other characters such as Crutchie (Matthew Duckett) and Les (Nesim Adnan) are not showcased in the spotlight as much as they deserve. What’s clear, however, is that this is a group effort. While they may not singularly have an opportunity to shine, together they are a force to be reckoned with, much like the characters themselves.”

WhatsOnStage: ***** “Credit must also fall to director and choreographer Matt Cole – utilising every inch of Large’s set, his cast emerge from hidden entrances across the auditorium, hopping along the aisles and (once or twice) soaring in overhead. Bouncing between boisterous and balletic, Cole oversees a whirligig of visual splendour. Powerhouse moments include well-known number “Seize the Day”, generating not one but two pre-interval standing ovations, as well as tap spectacular “King of New York”, kicking off act two with a bang.”

The Stage: **** “Spectacular choreography and catchy songs elevate this Disney musical about strikes, directed by Matt Cole.”

Credit: Johan Persson

Theatre Weekly: “The story by Harvey Fierstein is one that resonates today and is unapologetic in doing so, by coincidence it’s a transport workers strike that inspires the newsies to take action.  But it’s also a story of the power wielded by the fourth estate, and no matter whether it’s a street urchin or a Duke (and Duchess), the newspapers, and media more generally, drive the narrative and set public perception.”

Time and Leisure: **** “All in all, it’s very fun to watch – and extremely impressive. It’s one of those shows that simply need to be seen live, and as a full-scale, high-budget production at best, to be fully admired. And this production most definitely is one.”

Evening Standard: *** “The songs are accessible, rousing and infectious, somewhere between Les Mis and West Side Story. The world’s coyest burlesque scene (“I can see her legs!”) and Moya Angela belting out a number as Medda breaks things up. Set design, by Morgan Large, places a large tenement block upstage, leaving plenty of space at the front for the physical action.”

Broadway World: ** “Whether you will enjoy the show will depend on how you prioritise the technical elements of musical theatre’s storytelling against its spectacle and where you stand on a political struggle that ends in a happy compromise that changes very little. I suspect the phrase might be, “Come for the singing; stay for the dancing” – I’d certainly have preferred a lot more of the former in a show that stretches over two and a half hours with its interval. Wrap up warm too.”

Credit: Johan Persson

West End Best Friend: ***** “This show is an absolute triumph and deserves a long life in the UK. Do your musical dreams come true? “Yea they do” at the Troubadour. Not only does Newsies seize the day, they may of seized the title of “Best Show in the Country”.”

Time Out: **** “Matt Cole’s direction and choreography is a knockout: the billing as ‘immersive’ is a stretch, but there’s something so thrilling about the way the sizeable cast stampede down the Troubadour’s aisles, their feet making the seating stands vibrate and the audience’s pulses race. Virtuoso displays of gymnastics bring an accomplished score by Alan Menken (composer of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’) to furious life: ‘Seize the Day’ is a feverishly catchy riot, performed in a wild tangle of tumbling bodies that feels like it should end Act Two (instead, more sombre, soulful number ‘Santa Fe’ does the hons).”

London Theatre.co.uk: ***** “Newsies is faultless and full of frequently unexpected tricks that maintain thorough engagement throughout. It is one of the most technically skilful pieces out there, so if you’re seeing anything in London at the moment, make it this- you certainly won’t regret it.”

The Upcoming: ***** “Moya Angela, as Medda Larkin, gifts the audience a potent rendition of That’s Rich, while the depth and warmth of Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, in the leading role of Jack Kelly, is evident throughout. Morgan Large’s tall and dynamic set complements Mark Henderson’s lighting design, which switches from warm and dim to cold and dramatic.”

Newsies continues to play at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre until the 16th April 2023. To book tickets click here.

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