top of page

Newsies at Troubadour Theatre Wembley - Review


Venturing away from the West End, out to The Troubadour Theatre in Wembley, I expected great things from Newsies.With its Disney financial backing and large PR budget which has manifested endless underground posters and signage. Unfortunately, despite it being seemingly crowd-pleasing to those watching alongside with me, I was left disappointed.

Fundamentally, the key point of any musical is to tell a story. This is done through varying media: acting, dance, costume, set design, and lighting to name but a few. Many shows will emphasize one or two specific areas to highlight its brilliance. Newsies was excessive in every single area of its performance, much to its detriment.

The frustration started on arrival in Troubadour. We are met with a cavernous, temporary woodchip warehouse foyer, filled with chaotic queue after queue: one for merchandise, another for entry into one area, a further queue for seats in other areas, and four to five more bar queues. The end of each line converged in the centre of the room and produced a mess of people asking “are you in the queue for merch, tickets or the bar?”. Operations need to sort out the flow of guests; it’s a mess!

After navigating your way to enter the theatre itself, you are greeted by possibly the largest set and seating area I’ve ever seen. Seats are split into six separate areas, with Brooklyn centre front, Manhattan behind it and 4 smaller areas wrapping round the stage: Richmond, Woodside, Flushing,and The Bronx. Within each area has humungous gangways where performers intertwine with the audience throughout the show, often at a gasp or scream from the unexpecting elderly or nervous patrons. Unfortunately, sitting in Richmond, I was acutely aware of performers and backstage cast members running around, laughing and talking throughout the performance, sometimes even spoiling the silence during delicate or touching moments in the story.

Having walked around the auditorium during the halfway break, I would sit anywhere in the back half of Brooklyn orfront of Manhattan again. The other four areas provide proximity to stage which is excellent for immersion, but at the cost of a side view which obscures many moments.

The set itself, designed by Olivier Award winner Morgan Large, is impressive, cavernous, and creates the feeling of a vibrant New York cityscape. Many onstage set pieces are simple yet effective and the large three storey fire escape onstage throughout the show (reminiscent of New York skyscrapers in its height) is well used. However, due to the enormity of the set and with cast dispersed throughout the audience in all directions, I could never figure out where to focus my attention.

Led by a lacklustre performance of Jack by Michael Ahomka-Lindsay (who appeared bored) and well-acted performance ofKatherine by Bronté Barbé, the shows central relationship was sadly marred by their complete lack of chemistry – I was thoroughly shocked when they fall in love. Alongside this, they were on the hindered throughout the show by their microphones being unable to pick up their beautiful singing voices. Both lead actors need two fundamental changes: they need their mics moved elsewhere, to stop touching them during the performance and, more importantly, to go out somewhere for dinner and get to know each other; to createsome semblance of onstage chemistry.

Worst performance of the night belongs to Crutchie (Matthew Duckett) whose singing voice needs work, who acted forgettably, and who kept forgetting which leg was his “bad leg” – limping and hopping throughout the set, with his crutch in the wrong hand the whole time, if even it was meant to be his right leg, who knows?

The other leads are strong. I particularly enjoyed Ryan Kopel’s sweet and sincere David (whose costume needs to help distinguish him from other Newsies more, he can only do so much to stand out from the other gang) and Cameron Blakely’s turn as bad guy, Joseph Pulitzer. Again, the lead characters let down by the audience’s inability to hear them.

Finally, we come to the other 30+ actors, often all on stage together at the same time. Whilst their dancing was good andchoreography strong, the youth and lack of performing experience resulted in many of the ensemble running or jumping into each other, dropping hats, picking them up and evidently saying “oops” and winking at each other. The cast need to polish up their synchronicity in this dance heavy show, and work on their professionalism. Yes, you could argue they appeared a gang of cheeky chappies, but the sheer level of missed steps, and constant messing about during high energy dance numbers really let them down and often unintentionally broke the 4th wall.

One image from the programme distils my thoughts on the casting in Newsies and it’s this one. The central performer exquisitely dancing and acting at the peak of their ability, the right giving it a really good go but not quite there and the one on the left is mistimed, misheard or just incapable.

My review does appear pretty scathing of Newsies, however I did have a good time., I’d go see it again to see how the cast and crew settle in their roles. The audience appeared to love the musical, shouting and whooping along throughout the performance. Though impressive in its scale, I simply found the whole experience an assault on the senses, not the grand immersion it promised and ultimately, with the level of mistakes appearing as if it was still in previews, not a few months into its run.

I do urge you to buy tickets to this spectacular, crowd-pleaser of a show. Newsies will blow your socks off with its sheer scale and energy, ultimately ensuring a fun night.

Tickets available at or your favourite ticket sale agent, also £25 Rush tickets on TodayTix App daily at 10am.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page