“Newsies” hits the stage


Paris High School’s spring musical, “Newsies,” the Broadway musical inspired by the real-life newsboys strike of 1899, is in final rehearsals, with the show scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday April 5-6, 1 p.m. Saturday, April 6 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7 at Paris Center of Fine Arts.

Based on the 1992 musical film by the same name, the show features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein, according to PHS director Tanner Laughlin who admitted the musical is a dream show for him.

“I saw it in New York City a few years ago during one of our drama student trips,” Laughlin said. “I told Agnes (Wright, assistant director) at the time one of these days I’m going to direct it and here we are.”

There are 48 actors on stage for the musical who have been working diligently since rehearsls began Jan. 7, Laughlin said. In addition to the on-stage students, there are seven students working backstage and 10 in the orchestra.

In addition to being assisted by Wright, orchestra director is Jessica Hendrickson and choreographer is Jane Smittkamp. Alex Elmore is lighting director and Eric Hendrickson is in charge of sound. Stage manager is PHS sophomore Shane Crunk. The sets — including a moving printing press were constructed by Dave Speicher. Grand Ball Costumes and More in Charleston built the costume plot for the first time for the Paris show.

The newsboys' strike of 1899 was a youth-led campaign to force change in the way that Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst's newspapers compensated their child labor force of newspaper hawkers. The strikers demonstrated across the Brooklyn Bridge for several days, effectively bringing traffic to a standstill, along with the news distribution for many New England cities. The strike lasted two weeks, causing Pulitzer's New York World to decrease its circulation from 360,000 papers sold per day to 125,000. Although the price of papers was not lowered, the strike was successful in forcing the World and Journal to offer full buy-backs to their sellers, increasing the amount of money the newsies received for their work.

The Broadway musical, which played for more than 1,000 performances, is a high-energy family show, Laughlin said. The staging includes a three-story scaffold, provided by Midwest Restoration. Laughlin said the Broadway musical had moving towers.

“We knew we didn’t have the ability to electronically move towers so we came up with the next thing,” Laughlin explained. The scaffolding stays on stage for the entire performance and is used by the actors.

The two-act production is filled with great music, Laughlin said, including perhaps the most well-known song, “Seize the Day,” as well as “Brooklyn’s Here,” “Santa Fe,” and “Something to Believe In.”

Tickets for the show went on sale Saturday, March 23, with 25 percent of the available tickets sold in the first weekend, Laughlin said. All tickets are $10 and are reserved seating. Tickets may be purchased from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, March 31, in the lobby of the Paris Center of Fine Arts as well as at Prospect Bank during regular business hours. The tickets are also available for purchase online at https://pcfa.ticketleap.com/.

The leader of the newsies is Jack Kelly, played by senior Bryce Gladding. Fellow leaders of the newsies are Sean Blair, Davey and Max Moody, Crutchie. Hannah Bowers plays Katherine Plummer, the reporter who eventually becomes Jack’s love interest.

Other Newsies and cast members include Noah Riggs, Race; Graham Templeton, Les; Sadie Cassity, Medda Larkin; Joseph Pulitzer, Nathan York; Jacob Fellars, Albert; Dakota Brown, Specs; Shayleigh Cline, Henry; Christiana Marlowe, Finch; Daegan Hood, Romeo; Cole Myers, Elmer; Bailey Aitken, Mush; Chance Westerfield, Buttons; Kadi Henry, Splasher; Riley Griffith, Tommy; Katrina Strow, JoJo; Peyton Hughes, Mike; Abby Andrews, Ike; Lia Rigdon, Spot; Caroline Martin, Peyton Lenhart and Blanca Martinez, Newsies; Shane Daugherty, stage manager, Bill; Jordyn David, Hannah; Bailey Johnson, Bunsen; Sash Serkov, Nunzio/Jacobi; Brady Wiseman, Snyder; Treston Jones, Wiesel; Elizabeth Kennedy, Morris Delancey and Elizabeth Taylor, Oscar Delancey.

Ensemble members are Patty Trammel, Hailey Underwood, Emilee Roush, Alexis Milner, Mellie McCulloch, Kelley Whitehead, Rebekah Alexander, Katt Waltz, Victoria Bracken, Harlee Englum, Makayla Thomas, Emma Scott, Kendra Cartright and Maggie Herbek. Mini Newsies are Lauren Bowers and Harrison Hays.

The part of Gov. Teddy Roosevelt was part of a silent auction during a recent drama club fundraiser. Sharing the part during the performances will be Eric Marlowe, Lloyd Simpson and Brian Blair.