Courtesy of Royal Star Theatre

BY CLIFF KASDAN

A stirring musical tribute to youthful determination is gaining strong community support at the Royal Star Theatre at the Immaculate Conception Catholic School Auditorium.

The citywide strike organized by newspaper boys in 1899 combines modern savvy with 19th century styles to deliver a thoroughly entertaining evening.

On opening night, dozens of cast members of all ages offered exuberant performances in “Newsies.” 

The elaborate choreography (Gabriella Marchese) was well executed. The four-piece band (Paul L. Johnson, musical direction; Brett Roelofs; George Cortes; and Jamie Taber) played with unflappable consistency.  Sets (Lisa Curran) and costumes (Amy Ellis) were well done and the show’s director, ever-present Erik Neilssen, provided his always smiling presence to the event.

The troupe itself traces its origins to their countless performances in Flushing. Now they are well established in their venue at Jamaica Estates.  The cast and support members are comprised of many ages and persuasions. The result is always a very well-received and completely unabashed presentation.

Fiery newsie Jack — who hides a deep, dark past — is played with undeniable conviction and intensity by Louis DiBono. His girlfriend Katherine (Kaitlyn Abdul) has a few secrets of her own.  Lovely Jackie Moe very ably portrays Vaudeville dancer/theater owner Medda Larkin. Many of the newsboys are played by girls of all ages. They tuck their hair under their caps to sing, tap dance and help power the show to its stirring conclusion.  

Crutchie (Danielle Fleming) withstands capture by unscrupulous thugs. Brothers Les (Isabella Marsh) and Davey (Jackie Cosse) join the ranks of steadfast, striking newsies. Famed publisher Joseph Pulitzer (John DiBono) is one of the musical bad guys. He also happens to be lead actor Louis’ father!

The list of talented, incredibly enthusiastic cast members deserve unabashed recognition for a job well done. They include: Vanessa Diaz; Elias Avalos; AnnMarie Benigno; Dana Levy; Anne Marie Cahill; Emily Friedenburg; Rich Gilberto; Sarah O’Hare; Jessica Maderik; Lauren Rottenberg; Lisa Prywes; Ellen Armet; Sharmaine Jabrica; Daniel Rojo; Alex Andres; Jim Gillespie; Nick Cuttonaro; LoraMarie Muratore Ninson; and Scott Marshall.

Kudos to the Board of Directors for another job well done, including Amanda Doria, Alex Jamison, Charlene Greenberg, Alison Kurtzman, MaryEllen Pierce and everyone behind the scenes unintentionally omitted.

For information on this and future productions call 610-322-8498 or visit www.royalstartheatre.org.

As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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