Friday, 9 December 2022

REVIEW: Disney's Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

The moment UK theatre fans have waited for, the London transfer of the hit Broadway musical Newsies! This much anticipated new production of the Disney 1992 film premiered on Broadway 10 years ago and after 10 long years of waiting, London audiences finally have a chance to experience this show in the flesh. 

Sold as an immersive and in-the-round production, I can't say it really does either. In the original press releases, it was stated that it would be performed in the round but it's actually in thrust with the majority of the audience sitting in the traditional proscenium arch layout. Immersive is a word that's thrown around a lot in modern theatre but I question if it's lost all meaning. There was an effort to create an immersive show, but within the performance, there were no immersive elements. Just because performers enter and exit through the audience, doesn't make something immersive. 

This is an ensemble lead show, whilst the lead characters are vital to the plot of the musical they are overshadowed by the outstanding ensemble who bounced around the stage like Olympian gymnasts. Clean, precise, energetic and out of this world! It's clear Matt Cole's strengths lie in choreography, rather than direction. 

The star of the show is the huge ensemble numbers. And there are plenty of them! A super strong ensemble of actors who achieve things we've never seen on the London stage. 

The strength of the leads overall was a slight disappointment, with vocals not making a huge impact and one or two dodgy New York accents, they failed to command and carry the show. Outside of the wonderful ensemble of dancers, Ryan Kopel steals the show as Davey. An intelligent and subtle actor with a lovely voice, I was far more invested in him than anyone else. 

I believe this is an experience where the seat really affects your enjoyment of the show, being slightly further back in row W you can take in the magnitude of the space and the set design by Morgan Large. However, you feel so far away from the action in the huge space that you're unable to connect. The sound also wasn't appropriately handled, the levels were off and at times highlighted whenever performers were off key, they were at a level that was so high that it was uncomfortable. 

Despite picking the show apart, because after all, I am a reviewer! There is no denying this show is a good time. Even though it had its faults, the ensemble of dancers are worth the trip. With toe-tapping numbers the show is packed full of inspiring songs and afterwards, you'll want to get yourself down to a dance class! With some incredibly talented dancers, this show is like no other we've had in London for a very long time! 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★

Seat: W36, Manhattan | Price of Ticket: £63.00
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