Disney's Newsies: A West End Review

2 June 2023

Staged in the cavernous space of the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, Disney’s Newsies is a musical set in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century.

The show begins with a singing and dancing routine by the Newsies, immersing the audience into the production. The songs all stand out alongside each other, the dancing is beyond exceptional with the audience standing up and clapping at the interval as well as at the end.

Although the situation is different, the tale resonates with the strikes of today.

In the late 1800s, there was little or no restrictions on child labour so most people turned a blind eye to the Newsies’ harsh working conditions and what they had to do to survive.

Based on a real life situation, this is the story of a ragged band of teenage newspapers sellers, many of whom are orphaned, or working to support themselves and their families, who dream of a better life far away from the hardship of the streets.

After newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer hikes up the price of the papers that he charges the Newsies, Jack Kelly rallies his fellow newsboys and girls from across the city  to rise up against the exploitation of wealthy publishing tycoons.

Despite several of them being afraid of the consequences, they go on strike to fight for justice using the only power they have – solidarity. As with all good tales and the help of a young female reporter who sees what is happening, they are able to negotiate a compromise that is beneficial to both the publishers and the Newsies.

To create a romantic frisson, Katherine the female reporter encourages Jack with the promise of writing about it, and in the course of getting to know each other, fall in love.

The costumes are designed to integrate with the setting of the period. Watch out for Ethan Sokontwe who plays the very young Newsie Les.

A huge bar is at the entrance to the theatre. Hidden away, Restaurant Studio 5 is worth investigating for a bite to eat before the show.

Newsies is for anyone looking for a really feel good experience.