‘Newsies’ is a musical that makes production value the star of the show

Extra, extra: 9Works Theatrical and Globe LIVE’s production of Disney’s Newsies is as energetic as it gets.

There has been a lot of talk about the power of print and digital media lately. Or: how a group of people can change the course of the world by getting together and fighting for their shared ideals. Case in point: the Newsboys Strike of 1899, which inspired the Disney musical Newsies.

I came to Newsies with almost no knowledge of the show. All I knew was the performances were said to be high-energy and that people walked out of the theater wanting their own newsie. Staged by 9Works Theatrical and Globe LIVE, Newsies tells the story of newspaper boy Jack Kelly (played by Gian Magdangal) who leads his fellow “newsies” (two-time Gawad Buhay best actor awardee Jef Flores as Davey Jacobs, MYX VJ Alex Diaz as Race, Luis Marcelo as Crutchie, among others) to protest against publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer (Greg Dulcie) for raising the distribution prices of newspapers.

Like any Disney movie, Jack wants to move on to greener pastures. He’s the hero who persists until everything is back to how it was used to be, even though temptation (in the form of an alternative, more comfortable career) almost leads him to drop everything, including his friends.

For any theater fan, there’s an unspoken pressure for producers to deliver a performance at par with Broadway productions, considering that this is the first time that Newsies will be staged in the Philippines. But they pulled it off, and they did so with a dominantly Filipino cast.

A story this simple merits some flashy song and dance numbers, and that’s pretty much what this show is known for. For any theater fan, there’s an unspoken pressure for producers to deliver a performance at par with Broadway productions, considering that this is the first time that Newsies will be staged in the Philippines. But they pulled it off, and they did so with a dominantly Filipino cast. Director Robbie Guevara, with the help of head choreographer PJ Rebullida, wanted to highlight the dance talent in the Philippines. And with a show as big and buzzworthy as Newsies, they definitely kicked it off to a good start.

To help the Newsies cast get in shape, Globe LIVE introduced Training Ground, a series of training sessions for Newsies actors. “We need our actors to be triple threats, so instead of the usual auditions and rehearsals, Training Ground allows us to maximize their potential before going to actual rehearsals,” says Joe Caliro, senior adviser for creative marketing and multi-media businesses and executive producer of Globe LIVE.

The show, like other 9Works Theatrical x Globe Live productions, is staged in the Globe Iconic Store Amphitheater at Bonifacio Global City. If you’ve seen their previous collaborations, like American Idiot or A Christmas Carol, you’ll know that it’s a big outdoor theater to fill. With a stage this tall, a set designer is allowed to dream higher and higher. The three-piece set would make any designer stare in awe as every corner, every angle was utilized to set a scene as best as metal sculpture can. What’s even more amazing is what it became by the end of the show. (No spoilers here!)

There’s one line in the The World Will Know that goes, “When you got a hundred voices singin’, who can hear a lousy whistle blow?” Not only did Newsies prove that there is still power to the people, but they also showed that Filipino talent is hella powerful. If this production is the beginning for the showcase of new triple threats, then we’re definitely looking forward to the 9Works Theatrical and Globe LIVE’s next collaboration.

Newsies runs until July 30 at the Globe Iconic Store Amphitheater, Bonifacio Global City. For tickets, check out ticketworld.com.ph.

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