Recently, a cast of Barstow students brought the modern hit musical Newsies to life in the Raymond B. White Auditorium. Newsies made its Broadway debut in 2012, going on to win Tony awards for Best Original Score and Best Choreography. The musical, based on the 1992 movie Newsies, presents the true story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in a colorful and exciting fashion.
The main character, a paperboy named Jack Kelly (Rishi Malay), lives with other newsies in New York City. The newsies live a hard life, and times toughen when the publisher of the newspaper they sell increases the price for the boys, who must first buy the newspapers before selling them. After such a price increase, Jack finally takes charge, organizing a large-scale protest with the other newsies.
“I love the dance and the raw energy in every number!” says junior Jia Tucker. Jia plays Spot Conlon, the leader of the Brooklyn newsies. However, she goes on to explain that dancing is one of the primary difficulties faced by the cast as, “It's a very dance-centric musical and so we spend the majority of our sometimes five hour rehearsals on dancing and reworking scenes over and over.” Mr. Kohler, the director of Newsies and Barstow’s theater program agrees. He mentions that he and the cast face two main challenges with the production: the dancing and the set design. “Fortunately,” he says, “we have a great choreographer, Kenny Personett from Empire Dance Academy. The set, costumes, and props are all designed by students of the Theatre Arts class. They are doing an amazingly creative job with everything.”
With so much dancing required in Newsies, clearly the cast must practice frequently. However, some may not realize the magnitude of work that goes into producing the show. Jia mentions this, saying, “We rehearse pretty much every day except Fridays and Sundays, so it's pretty grueling.” Despite the rigors of practice, Jia maintains that the experience of rehearsing together is always enjoyable, “Everybody has so much passion and it rubs off.” These accounts of all of the hard work and passion which goes into putting on a production give prospective audience members valuable insight.
Perhaps the most important information that audience members should know comes from Mr. Kohler. He says that “The play is a historical piece, but it has a modern sensibility. The characters, music, and themes really speak to 2018 audiences. Empowerment of women, rights of the workers, corrupt politics are all things we deal with today. The music is really really good. Like really good. And it's for all ages, so bring the whole family.” Understanding the immense amount of work required for a theater production at Barstow should foster an appreciation for the cast by audience members. Accordingly, make sure to congratulate the cast on their exemplary performances in the production this year.