When the official cast list for Disney’s Newsies the Musical came out, those of us that were fans of the original 1992 movie scoured the cast list for familiar names… and were we pleasantly surprised to find that four of our favorite dancers from various seasons of SYTYCD were part of the cast! Huge favorites like Evan Kasprzak and Alex Wong, as well as those that left too soon like Thayne Jasperson and Jess LeProtto were all listed!
So naturally we here at Pure So You Think You Can Dance went into a group email firestorm and tried to see if we could have a group outing / get together and meet up at the Great White Way to watch the Newsies together… And if by some twist of faith talk to some of the dancers.
In the end only Margaret and myself (Marianya) were able to make the semi-impromptu trip and we have so much to tell you about this gem of a show.
Marianya: OMG The choreography was AMAZING! Not only that but it really seemed to have challenged the dancers to their fullest potentials. The SYTYCD alumni all have special moments throughout the show, be it as a dancer, actor, or singer. The choreography wasn’t just on the stage itself, but all over the staging, elevated… it was thorough and I couldn’t help but tap along with the music. I would go again just to see the dancing. For more of my thoughts of Disney’s the Newsies musical please head on over to my personal blog.
Margaret: The show was choreographed within an inch of its life, and that’s a good thing! A lot of the dancers have said in interviews that Newsies was the first movie they saw for their generation that had guys dancing and singing but still being “dudes”. A lot of them said it helped them see that it was okay to be a guy and like to dance. Everything about the show is full out (it is Disney, after all) and the choreography, with a mix of contemporary but also time period-centric moves, fits beautifully.
Anyone that appreciates strong dancing can tell you that one person that will catch your attention and was not a SYTYCD alumni was Ryan Steele who played Specs (he wore glasses). In fact his center was so incredibly precise that the only SYTYCD alumni that could possibly compare was Danny Tidwell of runner up of SYTYCD Season 3 (he is SYTYCD Season 2 runner up Travis Wall’s brother). In fact we went so far to as to say that Ryan Steele would be a combination of Danny Tidwell and SYTYCD Season 7 hopeful Anthony Burrell. In a crazy serendipitous coincidence of SYTYCD connections, Ryan is close friends with Jakob Karr from Season 6! But you’re here for the dancers that were part of the So You Think You Can Dance family:
Alex Wong: Of course, anyone that has been keeping up with So You Think You Can Dance would know and love Alex Wong, and how he sustained an injury to his Achilles tendon that forced him out of the competition. After approximately a year of recuperation he was asked to come back as an All Star for SYTYCD Season 8 only for him to turn it down due to an injury to his other Achilles tendon. Well he has come back from both injuries to dance as if he was never injured to begin with (and mind you these were potential career ending injuries). He was as strong as ever and he looked like he was enjoying himself. His ballet training was evident but so was some of the growth from the time he was on the show. This is his Broadway debut & with such strong dancers throughout the ensemble (many with regional & Broadway credits) he could have easily gotten lost in the shuffle. However, he gets some nice shining moments & his talents are put to good use.
Evan Kasprzak: Dancing a style that he was known for during his season on SYTYCD, it’s amazing to think this is his Broadway debut as well. He is one of the holdovers from the production at Papermill Playhouse this past fall. To say that he has stretched as a performer is an understatement. He has a small bit part in the show and he has a couple of solos in the ensemble numbers. Plus he looks stronger than ever. He shines as a tapper during the rousing “Kings of New York” and gets a fun mini-duet with fellow alum Jess as well.
Thayne Jasperson: He also has a bit part in the second act of the show and he has improved leaps and bounds since his time on SYTYCD. You can tell that his dancing has strengthened quite a bit and his lines are smoother. According to his bio he was on the first national tour of West Side Story in the intervening time. Thayne wasn’t known as a “Broadway” dancer during season 4, but the performance where the judges said he really came alive was a Broadway number, dancing to “Cool” from West Side Story with Comfort. His time to shine is in the 2nd Act and he has some lines as well. He was always remembered as a very graceful dancer, which probably put him at a disadvantage during his season with big personalities like Twitch, Joshua & Mark. But he fits right in on the stage and his dancing has an “umph” and strength to it that wasn’t necessarily apparent when he was on the show.
Jess LeProtto: He’s been on Broadway a few times prior to his time on SYTYCD, and considering that he was just on the show last season there isn’t much to say except how we get a chance to see him in his element now and see his growth since his time on SYTYCD. And did he grow, Jess took a lot of flack during the season for being too much of a ham, and he seems to have reined that in. He and Evan are both “vertically challenged” but they dance as big as their smiles without trying to outdance some of the taller dancers.
After the show, we stood at the stage door in the hopes of getting to meet some of the guys. To our surprise, every one of the cast members came out and signed autographs. They were grateful, courteous to everyone and a pleasure to talk to. Marianya was able to talk to Alex for a bit about hopefully setting up an interview with some of the guys, and Margaret was able to talk to Thayne. They were both so happy to hear that SYTYCD fans were at the show and were definitely interested in sitting down with us, either over the phone or on Skype (gotta love modern technology!) We’ll see what we can set up as we head towards the beginning of season 9!