Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Half a star short

     I wouldn't have made a very good publisher. Unlike that stingy Joseph Pulitzer, who's the undeniable villain in "Newsies,"  Broadway Grand Rapids' season opener this week at DeVos Performance Hall. How can he not be moved by these determined, talented kids?
      And yet, you might ask, how can I deny them half a star? Why did I give this show a 3 1/2 star rating instead of the full four? In my review in the Press, I call it a high-energy spectacle that makes you want to cheer. What else is there? Dare I expect more?
      These are the debates I have with myself in the wee hours of the morning. Four stars is like falling in love. When it happens you know it. You don't have to explain it.
      And that's the way I feel about "Newsies" most of the time. Thrilled. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it disappoints sometimes as well. There isn't one song that stands out, that I'm still humming on the way out the door. The score is adequate but a little too much like many other scores. The lyrics in "Carrying the Banner" are "It's a fine life carrying the Banner," with the whole scene echoing "It's a fine life" in "Oliver!"
      These newsboys certainly can dance, reminding me of the striking miners in "Billy Elliot." But the miners use dance to deliver a terrifying fight, while the newsboy's brawl is about as convincing as a paper tiger's growl.
       I know, I sound like a miserly Pulitzer counting pennies instead of seeing the big picture, which is an inspiring tribute to the little guy's never-ending battle for respect. So keep your eyes on the prize and enjoy "Newsies." Don't allow half a star to dim your fun.

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