OGDEN — If you have not seen or heard of Newsies, I am a bit surprised, because this is the second review I have written about Newsies this week. Based on a true story, this Terrace production directed by Kate Rufener, follows the young newsboys who are trying to survive amidst difficult pressures and raising wholesale paper prices.
Terrace Plaza Playhouse utilized the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to slap fresh coats of paint and carpet on the inside of their theatre and a beautiful new façade on the outside, and they held a grand opening ceremony in conjunction with the Newsies opening weekend, since looking for entertaining for the weekend is important, from theater to Casinos, although if you want to play online, there is also options like the sbobet casino online too. The new look fits in well with the theme of the show of the underdog slipping in to win the day, because I personally did not expect to come out of the production loving it as much as I did. Terrace did not have the budget of other Newsies productions that I have seen in the valley, nor did it have the flashy technical elements, but what it lacked it made up for in heart and direction and vision from Rufener. A few standout choices really made this production shine.
One thing that Rufener did was gender-blind casting. This production is not the first time I have seen this choice in Newsies, as is the case in many a production, I am sure they saw more females than males trying out for roles. Something that Rufener and costume designers Jamila Lowe, Jim Tatton, and Stephanie Petersen did that was rather unique was represent both female and male in costume choices, letting both boys and girls sell the papers as they look, which I felt was an awesome choice, because as a social services worker, I’ve learned that when you are poor, it does not really matter what gender you are, you work. As the plot of the children’s crusade weaves its way through the story, the gender choice seems to be more of an accurate reflection that the unfair treatment of all children was at the heart of the newsboys strike.
Music director Jessica Love also did a fine job getting this ensemble of kids to create a fantastic sound. I have been to many shows at the Terrace where the number of the cast was a bit large and the use of space was not well thought out, so the sound balance was, well, out of balance and the visuals were not in step with the vocals. Newsies did not have this problem. Love and Rufener did a spectacular job of utilizing the space that they had and getting the cast to harmonize well.
Brittney Ann Mosher as Katherine Plumber was quite the stand out. In the character’s iconic song, “Watch What Happens,” Mosher made some acting choices that were truly original. Mosher has a great voice, that is evident, and could have just performed the song, and it would have been excellent; however, she chose to put in some really well timed characterizations that made the performance far more realistic and connected to the audience than any other performance of Plumber that I have seen in years.
KC Behr as Jack Kelly and Shane Alvey as Crutchie were enticing from the beginning. Even though I know this story well, having been enthralled like every other 13-year-old girl that watched this movie come out in the 1990s, I was able to actually connect with Behr’s and Alvey’s interpretations of the characters rather than just feel like I was at another production of Newsies, because the two were skilled enough at connecting with their roles. Davey, played by Gage Reese, was endearing, and Rufener’s choice to cast Daphne Dixon as Les was absolutely delightful. She played that role with joy and flare, and I absolutely would have bought her last paper from her.
Terrace does not have the space to do the larger set designs that some of the different theatres do, but the simplicity of the production did not detract from its heart and message. The choreography by Megan Call was truly marvelous and, again, surprising given the space and size of the cast. Many different ensemble members were given a chance to shine and show off their skills in a fashion that I did not expect.
Just as at the end of the show the Newsies are able to show that sometimes a David can slay a Goliath, Terrace was able to show that it is often the case that really good theatre can come from the smaller theatres with the smaller budgets and the people who really just love making good art.