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Newsies UK Musical Review

The show may have closed its doors at Wembley’s Troubadour Theatre on July 30th after being extended multiple times, but after seeing it six times I felt a positive review was the least it deserved!

The show is based on the real life 1899 Newsboy Strike in New York. Disney’s adaptation follows the story of newspaper boys living on the street struggling to survive. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer unfairly raises the newspaper prices, at the expense of the Newsies, Jack Kelly along with his new friend Davey, brilliantly played by Ryan Kopel who has such wholesome relationships with the child actors playing Les (his younger brother), and fellow Newsies are forced to form a union and strike against their boss. With the help of female reporter Katherine Plumber, New York as well as Kelly himself will come to realise the importance of the Newsies. The story by Harvey Fierstein is one that’s very relevant in London with half the country on strike!

The shows protagonist, Jack Kelly played by Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, is a rebellious newsboy who’s dream is to be an artist in Santa Fe, away from the big city of New York. Kelly is by far the show’s most complex character and through the two hours 10 minutes different layers are revealed, which are portrayed perfectly by Ahomka-Lindsay. After being forced to give up on his dream to help his friends fight for their rights, Kelly battles with feelings of guilt after endangering fellow Newsie Crutchie, played by Matthew Duckett. From his opening number of ‘Santa Fe’ to the more upbeat ‘Seize the Day’ Ahomka-Lindsay wowed the audience throughout with his impressive vocals earning many standing ovations as he leads the show as the first black Jack Kelly.

The talented Bronte Barbe who plays Katherine Plumber, Kelly’s love interest and the aspiring journalist is a vital part of getting the Newsies voice’ heard, she earned a front page feature following her solo ‘Watch What Happens’ showcasing her exceptional vocals. Ahomka-Lindsay and Barbe’s relationship flourished perfectly as the show progressed, overcoming economic class differences on the way. As I saw the show multiple times I also saw covers George Crawford and Lindsay Atherton as Jack and Katherine respectively for single shows.

The ensemble including the likes of Mukeni Nel, Arcangelo Ciulla, Josh Barnett, Mark Samaras and Jack Bromage to name a few was just as important as the main characters. Made-up of a large group of young men, the Newsies brought Matt Cole’s mesmerising choreography to life in the best possible way, whilst delivering powerful vocals enriched with emotion. The energy from the show is so contagious through dance, acrobatics, and vocals. The whole cast is absolutely amazing, the talent they have is honestly mind-blowing you can’t help but be uplifted after watching them! The on stage spectacular is complimented greatly by the music directed by Chris Ma containing classics from both the original 1992 film and Broadway production.

A change Cole brought into the London production was the fierce Brooklyn Newsies being made up of a full female cast with Lillie-Pearl Wildman playing leader Spot. This is the first time a full female cast has represented a borough in Newsies.

The Troubadour Theatre was the perfect place for the show, with its thrush stage allowing it to be as immersive as possible and even had allowed some characters to fly over our heads! The only negative was the sound, with the lack of speakers meant some of the dialogue was hard to understand.

As well as the cast everyone in the Newsies family is so lovely and the kindest atmosphere I’ve been in! The fans known as the ‘Fanzies’, had three dedicated nights throughout the time in London where there was limited edition merch and a Q&A with the cast and creatives following the show. I attended two ‘Fanzies’ nights and as far as I’m aware Newsies is the only show to hold special fan nights! There was also a fan project t-shirt company, known as ‘T-shirtsies’ made to give recognition to the newsies company; at the final show they hosted a massive meet up for everyone that had purchased their shirts and well over 100 people turned up showing the huge support for the show.

From the passionate vocals, to Henry, played by Matt Trevorrow, flying over my head from a lampshade in King Of New York, everything about the show well and truly blew me away from the beginning to the end… proven in me returning another six times! On a personal note it was nice to see some disability recognition with Matthew Duckett, who has Cerebral Palsy, casted as the wholesome Crutchie. I would confidently give Newsies UK five stars, nothing about it left me disappointed, I’m missing the show already but there was a hint we will see it back in London soon so would definitely recommend going to see it on its return – even my Nan enjoyed it so it’s for all ages!

Access at The Troubadour Theatre

Located just a five minute walk from Wembley Park Underground Station – and an even less walk from my university flat! The theatre has great access for wheelchair users with a flat entrance all the way to the seats. The shop was in the foyer which too was all accessible with staff on hand to support where needed. Our seats were located at the bottom of Brooklyn both in the centre (at the bottom of the stairs) or at the end of the aisle, with the cast running right in front of us in both spaces. The only negative was we couldn’t see the parts of the show happening behind us but this was very minor. The tickets were very easy to purchase too with it being done via email whereas most theatres require phone calls.


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