Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
‘Newsies’ Offers Tony Award-Winning Horatio Alger Story
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The cast of “Newsies” tell a story with an irresistible innocence.
   
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

They’re striking at the Sun Valley Community School.

Thirty of the valley’s high school and college students in St. Thomas Playhouse’s Summer Theater Project are taking on Pulitzer and Hearst in Disney’s retelling of the Newsboy Strike of 1899.

“He may own the world but he doesn’t own us, and the things we do today will be tomorrow’s news,” chant the youngsters as they find their voice in “Newsies.”

 
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Jack, played by Charlie Coulter, takes issue with reporter Katherine, played by Mattigan Monschke, being a girl.
 

The 2012 Broadway musical, which was nominated for eight Tony Awards, will be presented at 7 p.m. today—July 21--through Saturday, July 24, at the Sun Valley Community School Theater. Tickets are $15 for those under 18 and $25 for adults. Tickets for tonight’s preview performance are $10, available at https://www.stthomasplayhouse.org/

The musical revolves around teenagers who rally together to take on the titans of publishing after they begin charging the newsboys more for the papers they sell. When the strike occurred, newsboys were averaging just 26 cents a day.

The play won two Tony Awards, includes one for a winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and another for the book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.

The story is a Horatio Alger story, a David and Goliath story, complete with a boy on crutches and other down-and-out youngsters who come from Bronx, Bowery and Queens to stand together in attempt to change the game.

 
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Many of the actors in the play demonstrate talents beyond their years.
 

But reality soon hits close to home when they realize they can’t eat if they don’t sell papers.

And Joseph Pulitzer, who just before gleefully published the news of a trolley strike, censors the news of the newsboys’ strike, claiming, “If it’s not in the paper, it never happened.”

The return to the stage has been a challenging one for St. Thomas Playhouse’s Summer Theater Project. Usually, they start rehearsing in May and stage the show in late June. But this year, because of COVID, they engaged instead in a two-week intensive, with work running into the evening.

But the chance to return to the stage has been cathartic, even emotional for many of the young actors, some of whom have not had the opportunity to do theater for nearly two years.

 
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Yes, there’s dancing, too!
 

Charlie Coulter who plays Cowboy Jack Kelly said the play has helped him understand the Black Lives Matter and other protests happening these days.

“They’re saying, ‘We are here and we’re not taking it anymore,’” he said. “The fact that the newsboys can come together from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens—it shows that people have power in groups.”

“It reminds us that everyone should make a stand for allowing people to live as they are,” said Sarah Feldman. “Everyone deserves an equal chance at life, at being happy, at not being discriminated against because of race or gender.”

Luke Mauldin, who plays one of the brothers befriended by Kelly, noted that the songs are upbeat. Each song acts as a catalyst for change, he added: “With each song you see a new confidence growing. You see change in them.”

 
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The Newsies seize the day.
 

The play is also about family, said Director Sara Gorby.

“We pick plays about family, whether they’re related to one another or whether they’re a group of people who come together to become a family,” she said. “Here, we have students from each of the schools in  the valley—Wood River High, the Middle School, Sage, Community School—and we’ve come together as a family in a safe environment to tell a story about family.”

Louisa Waycott is the music director and Savina Barina, the choreographer.


 

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