Theater Tulsa begins its new season with the Broadway cult classic.
Theatre Tulsa opened their 96th season this August with their energetic production of the Broadway hit, “Newsies.” The show had such a high production value, with excellent singing, dancing and acting, that it’s hard to believe it was not a touring Broadway production. This production certainly shows off all of the local Tulsa talent. The high energy singing and dancing numbers kept audience members cheering and laughing.
“Newsies” is a Disney musical that centers on a group of newsboys at the turn of the 20th century. These kids, who are just trying to eke out a living, are proud to be hawking the news. However, when their boss, the big, bad Joseph Pulitzer, hikes their prices to improve his circulation, the boys go on strike to improve their working conditions. The musical is focused on how these children fight for their rights, a story that can be appreciated in modern times, as there are still people fighting for their rights. It is a feel-good story where the audiences are rooting for these kids to beat the selfish rich men who run the city.
The most fun aspect of this musical is all of the large song and dance numbers. The opening number of the second act, “King of New York,” was particularly fun to watch because it incorporated dance, tap and tumbling, showing off the varied talents of the cast.
Another enjoyable aspect of this “Newsies” production is the ensemble cast, which features quite a number of actors. Many community theaters would not attempt to tackle this musical because of the personnel it requires. However, Theatre Tulsa had plenty of talent to dazzle audiences. The talented ensemble made the musical numbers which included tumbling and tap mesmerizing to watch. “Newsies” incorporated a large ensemble full of stellar singers, dancers and actors.
Theatre Tulsa veteran Pete Brennan led the cast as newsie leader Jack Kelly. Brennan portrays a charismatic Kelly with a chip on his shoulder who is clearly the star of the show. Tabitha Littlefield plays his love interest Katherine Plumber and energetically spars with Brennan’s Kelly. Littlefield’s solo number is particularly enjoyable and hilarious. Kolbi Jordan turned in a scene-stealing performance as Medda Larkin, the theater owner who takes pity on the newsies. Her soulful voice filled the theater during her entertaining solo. Trace Herrara stole my heart as the adorable little boy who played eight-year-old Les. Herrara was particularly charming and kept the audience in stitches with his mannerisms.
The large, moveable set pieces provided the perfect background for the show. The cast skillfully climbed and jumped all over them, making the audience feel like they were truly in the streets of New York with the newsies.
Although “Newsies” ended its run on the last weekend of August, Theatre Tulsa has a full season scheduled. They return to the stage November 2 – 10 for their production of “Barnum.”