By Michael Jansen Miller
The Lexington Theatre Company’s flippin’ fantastic production of Disney’s NEWSIES roars onto the Opera House stage with the powerful scent of fresh rain after a much-anticipated midsummer thunderstorm. Hot off the Mambo heels of the heat-inducing West Side Story, The LEX’s latest solidifies the company’s place alongside the best regional professional theatre groups in the nation.
The constellation of stars includes Dan DeLuca, who originated the role of Jack Kelly on the First National Tour of NEWSIES and Carrie Compere, who starred as Sofia on Broadway in The Color Purple. Rising Seniors from premiere collegiate theatre programs from across the country, a smattering of local talent, and other Broadway and touring veterans round out the remarkable cast.
Kudos to The LEX for falling in line with a relatively new (and long needed) trend in American theatre by helming the creative team with a trifecta of talented women. Lyndy Franklin Smith powerfully directs alongside another formidable female, Mara Newbery Greer, whose choreography soars. And then light up the whole affair with the lioness of light design, Tanya Harper’s always spot-on artistry. While many of us shamelessly came to see the boyband-ready bravado of the nimble newsboys, thanks to this talented trio of women behind the scenes, this NEWSIES has much more to offer than pin-up pleasure.
Disney’s NEWSIES is inspired by the real life ‘Newsboy Strike of 1899’ when newsboy Kid Blink (here fictionalized as Jack Kelly) led the ragged orphans and runaways known as newsies on a two-week-long action against the likes of Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst and other powerful publishers. It features music by eight-time Academy Award winning composer Alan Menken and a book by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.
If The LEX keeps up this momentum in seasons to come and perhaps increases their production schedule to include three shows a year (and perhaps an original World Premiere production, which is not outside of their capacity) I predict that they may very well be in contention for a Regional Theatre Tony Award in the not too distant future. That hasn’t happened in Kentucky since Actors Theatre of Louisville was honored in 1980.
That would be a nice thing to herald from the new marquee that’s going up on the Broadway entrance of the Opera House later this year.
In the meantime, seize the day and savor this sensational production that runs through August 4.
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