• November 12, 2019
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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 10:30 am

There’s energy to spare, some of the cutest youngsters you’re likely to see on stage this theatrical season, several impressive dance routines and a breakout performance by a local favorite, all combining for a satisfying evening (or matinee) at Royal Star Theatre’s production of “Newsies,” running one more weekend at Immaculate Conception Church in Jamaica.

The show, written by Alan Menken (music), Jack Feldman (lyrics) and Harvey Fierstein (book), is a Disney favorite, particularly among young audiences who can most easily identify with the title characters as they struggle for a fair shake against the publishing titans who threaten their welfare. Last Saturday’s opening night audience was filled with obvious fans.

Under the assured direction of Erik Neilssen, the production is admirable in many respects. The young ladies who portray many of the “newsboys” are completely immersed in their respective roles and render the gender-blind casting a nonissue. Movement around the double-decker set is smooth, and the large cast is often found in photo-worthy tableaux. Each scene blends into the next almost without pause.

Heading the cast as Jack, charismatic leader of the paperboys, is Louis DiBono, who, at the age of 20, has already amassed impressive local stage credits. Here, he meets the challenges of what is perhaps his most demanding role, and proves he’s a real contender, filled with conviction in both his musical and dramatic moments.

Kaitlyn Abdul sings and emotes effectively as Jack’s love interest, Katherine. Danielle Fleming is touching as the handicapped Crutchie. As young brothers Davey and Les, respectively, Jackie Cosse and particularly Isabella Marsh, are adorable and effortlessly steal many a moment. Jackie Moe sells her one big number as Jack’s friend, theater owner Medda.

One of the dramatic highlights is a confrontation between Jack and his chief adversary, Joseph Pulitzer. Pulitzer is brought to forceful life by John DiBono, father of Louis, lending special emotion to the scene.

Music director Paul L. Johnson leads a crackerjack band of four (percussionist Jamie Taber played with particular focus). Choreographer Gabriella Marchese whipped up some fancy footwork for the game ensemble.

Lisa Curran designed an impressive, detailed set, while costumer Amy Ellis provided a look that is totally apropos.

The only drawback on Saturday was the poor sound quality, with voices disturbingly muffled, an issue that was largely corrected following intermission.

When: Fri.-Sat., Nov. 8-9, 8 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 10, 3 p.m.
Where: Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy, 179-14 Dalny Rd., Jamaica
Tickets: $20; $17 seniors, kids; $2 more at door. (610) 322-8498,

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