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NHS ‘Newsies’ delights audiences

By Beatrice Beutel
Hometown Weekly Correspondent

The overture filled the theater with recognizable musical motifs as the curtain opened to reveal a minimalist scaffold set with a projection newspaper background. Needham High School’s production of “Newsies” fulfilled all of one’s expectations for this timeless classic, while also highlighting all of the students’ talents. 

“Newsies” follows the story of Jack Kelly and his cohort of newspaper boys as they form a union and strike against a greedy up-charge in paper prices brought on by the corporate villain, Joseph Pulitzer. Frankie Mendez, who played Jack Kelly, fully fit the leading role with a strong commitment to his character and a beautiful, rich singing voice. 

There were far too many roles to comment on each character individually, but the entire cast did an excellent job providing the energy and emotional stakes needed to bring this show to life.

Directed by Kristen Mazzocchi, the staging created easy focal points and made smart use of all the space; a highlight of the show was during “The World Will Know”, when all the newspaper boys descended into the theater aisles, immersing the audience in the excitement of the strike. Although the set design was minimal, it fit the run-down New York City world and was elevated by the modern video projection background. As the newspaper boys eagerly awaited each morning’s headline on stage, the audience could share in their anticipation as the newspaper headline appeared above the scaffolding. The video projection was quite sophisticated, as the city skyline even moved during a chase scene. 

“Newsies” is also a very dance-heavy production, and choreographer Mitzi Weinman included plenty of entertaining cartwheels, back flips, and fist-pumps to hype up the audience. There were multiple dance sequences with athletic ballet moves that nodded to the original Broadway choreography, as well. 

The excellent cast, direction, and choreography, in combination with a great orchestra, led by Jonathan VanderWoude, ultimately made for an impressive high school production of “Newsies”. 

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