The story in "Disney's Newsies" is familiar to many people because the musical-comedy is based on the 1992 movie, which became a cult favorite.
The Tony Award-winning score in the Broadway show, through Feb. 8 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, is by A-list composers Alan Menken and Jack Feldman.
But there is no doubt about it: The dancing is the star. Christopher Gattelli's choreography gives "Newsies" jolt after jolt of adrenaline and rush after rush of thrills. Terpsichorean feats of flips, twirls, handstands and cartwheels may seem merely athletic on the surface, and that would be enough. But the Tony-winning choreography reflects character growth. At the start, it's all roughed-up, flexed feet and bent legs. But as the show progresses, the dancers morph into something more refined and technically strong, with pointed feet and straighter arms.
The story is about an 1899 paperboy strike, pitting street-savvy paperboys, aka "newsies," against publishing baron Joseph Pulitzer. Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca) is the charismatic leader who rallies the band of ragamuffins when Pulitzer raises distribution prices at the newsboys' expense. But that's just the framework for a not-so-subtle polemic about trade unions and one-percenters.
"New York is fine for those who can afford a big, strong door to keep it out," Kelly tells Katherine (Stephanie Styles), a wannabe reporter and inevitable love interest.
Turn-of-the-century grit, grime and graft — as run through a Disney filter, at least — permeates the book by Harvey Fierstein and the songs vacillate between marchlike anthems and beaten-down ballads. They are all fine, and sung well.
But it's the dancing that touches the heart.
"Disney's Newsies" will run through Feb. 8 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $26 to $125. To order, call 305-949-6722 or go to ArshtCenter.org.