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Review: Spokane Valley Summer Theatre’s ‘Newsies’ thrills with strong performances, choreography

July 10, 2022 Updated Sun., July 10, 2022 at 7:40 p.m.

Jennifer Tindall and Landon Toth of Spokane Valley Summer Theater’s production of “Newsies” rehearse as characters Katherine and Jack at University High School in Spokane Valley on Tuesday.  (kathy plonka)
Jennifer Tindall and Landon Toth of Spokane Valley Summer Theater’s production of “Newsies” rehearse as characters Katherine and Jack at University High School in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. (kathy plonka)

Spokane Valley Summer Theatre’s production of “Newsies” is off to a brilliant start.

First things first, a hearty hats off to choreographer Angela Pierson. The music is lovely, and there was no shortage of talented singers, but in this show, the dancing is everything.

Based on real events, “Newsies” follows a group of paperboys, led by the charismatic Jack Kelly (Landon Toth). A sudden increase in newspaper prices demanded by paper owner Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Mortier) makes it harder and harder for the boys to earn enough from sales to support themselves.

Eventually, the boys rally together and, little by little, newsies all over the city strike to force change. Meanwhile, a concerned reporter (Jennifer Tindall) does what she can to help. But, met with seemingly insurmountable resistance from powerful higher-ups, victory is anything but clear until Gov. Theodore Roosevelt finally intervenes, putting Pulitzer and the other publishers in their place.

The contrast between the character of Pulitzer – almost comically evil – and the quality of Mortier’s voice is just wild. There were several points where I’d be smiling like an idiot, listening, and suddenly remember, “Ah, yes, what a … what a horrible man.”

Also, shout out to Maddie Burgess as Hannah, Pulitzer’s secretary. The role is a small one. But Burgess took what little dialogue she had and, with each brief appearance, absolutely lit up the stage.

Act two opened with an uproariously well-received tap number. You barely needed the rest of the show. There was enthusiasm from the audience throughout, but the second the tapping started – or any dance number for that matter – we were all cheers.

I can’t imagine the hours those dancers spent in rehearsal, but they were clearly well-spent. Bravo!

“Newsies” performances will be staged at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd Ave., Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through July 24.

For information, visit svsummertheatre.com or call the box office at (509) 368-7897.

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