by Deborah Marciniak – Speakeysie contributing writer
“Now is the time to Seize the Day”…don’t let this energetic, magnificent, show-stopping musical pass you by. Newsies the Musical, produced by Mellodrama Productions and directed by Neva Garrett, brings a flavor of professional theatre to the heart of Dahlonega.
Newsies is a Disney Broadway musical inspired by the real-life Newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City. Mellodrama’s non-profit musical theatre production runs this weekend (July 20th, 21st and 22nd) at the Lumpkin County High School theatre; it is rich with exciting dance, moving vocals and powerful storytelling.
Noteworthy solo performances include Fiona Hare(Katherine) “Watch What Happens” and Jonathan Marciniak (Crutchie) “Letter from The Refuge.”
Fiona (a junior at Syracuse University) brings attitude, a bit of sass, and confidence to the role of Katherine. Her voice demands your attention and is worthy of any professional stage. Jonathan (a recent Shuler nominee) has a voice that lingers in your mind, even after the song ends. His solo is emotional and heartwarming, and can easily move you to tears. Jonathan Whitmire (Jack) provides a passionate performance, showing a powerful range of emotions. Jonathan W. (a senior at University of Georgia) has a New York accent that is impeccable and his characterization is extremely believable. Jordan Garrett (Davey) rounds up the impressive group of leads. Jordan’s towering height and clean lines enhance his ability to add flair, smoothness, and style to the dynamic dance numbers. He is an actor with a keen sense of blocking and stage presence, and his protective instincts for his younger on-stage brother Les are believable and sincere.
Other key-noteworthy performances include Dylan Henschen (Race), Gray Smith (Albert), Olivia Watts (Hannah), and Dante Bulos (Les). They bring freshness and originality to their roles, and continue in character with subtle touches, even when not reciting lines.
The entire cast, under the direction of Neva Garrett (Director), is a mix of energy, talent, and ages (from 7 to 70). Neva masterfully recognizes the gift in each cast member and allows each member to shine. Special recognition to two of the Newsies dancers, Nikoli Smith (Romeo)- whose “toe touch” is perfection and Julia Merritt (Buttons) – whose attitude and enthusiasm is contagious.
Jordan Garrett (Choreographer) designed choreography that is outstanding and entertaining, packed with a variety of jumps, flips, turns, slides…dancers are on the floor, in the air, on top of the scaffolding, jumping boxes. Jordan (a sophomore at Berea College) had the added challenge of working with dancers who had various levels of expertise: advanced, beginners, and some who had never been on stage. He masterly created dances on the level of each dancer, and seamlessly wove these together for an eye-catching and exciting tapestry. “King of New York” is an over-the-top number, complete with spoons, brooms and injured Newsies.
Jordan also designed the unique and impressive set. The movable scaffolding is a remarkable way for the audience to be visually transported to another scene. The larger scaffolding provides different levels of visual interest. The set is superbly enhanced by a variety of lighting techniques, overseen by Lighting Director Becca Blackman.
The costumes are exquisite and truly Broadway-worthy. Katherine’s wardrobe was designed and originally crafted by Director Neva Garrett. In addition, Costume Assistants, Leslie Camp and Kawanna Martin paid attention to every detail to ensure that the look of the entire Newsies cast is authentic and realistic. This culminates in a look and feel that allows the audience to step back in time to New York in the 1890’s.
From impeccable acting to exhilarating dancing and singing, to a set and costumes that take you to another era, Mellodrama’s “Newsies” is a musical that you don’t want to miss. Performances, held at the Lumpkin County High School in Dahlonega, are on Friday, July 20th at 8pm, Saturday, July 21st at 8pm and
Sunday, July 22nd at 3pm. Tickets are $10.
Go to www.eventbrite.com. Or get them at the door.
All proceeds from ticket sales go to support the Lumpkin County Middle School Theatre program.
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