It’s 1899 in New York City, and child labor laws are, for the most part, non-existent. Meet a group of newsboys who live on the streets and do what they can to survive. Every single penny counts, so when publisher Joseph Pulitzer raises the wholesale price of the papers these boys need to buy, the boys decide it’s time to fight back…not only for themselves, but for everyone who needs a fair chance at life.
“This story applies to everyone, and it should be told everywhere,” said director Janette Gaines. “It’s remembering how far we’ve come with the child labor laws. These were real people and these were real things happening. A lot of people today would not believe what kids had to do back then and the living conditions they were in.”
Thus enters Jack Kelly (played by Corey Tickles), who rallies his fellow newsboys to protest. “He’s the type of guy that carries the world on his shoulders and tries to protect them,” said Tickles. And though it seems to be a battle between David and Goliath, where the odds are stacked against them, Jack, in his song “Seize the Day,” urges them on to fight the good fight.
However, the story expands even beyond the Newsies when the press coverage by Katherine Plumber includes all the children affected by child labor and poor living conditions. It then becomes impossible for the leadership of New York City to ignore.
“This is a very important story to tell,” said Lorrie Anderson, who plays Katherine. “It’s the story of if you believe in what’s right and stand up for what’s right, you can make a difference. And it has to start somewhere. Every fire starts with a simple spark.”
And the spark of the Newsies strike helped people realize they could take on the “Goliaths” of this world and make things right.
“This is a musical that is about the potential of every individual to achieve things that are greater than themselves,” said Joe Gumina, who portrays Joseph Pulitzer.
Though a deep and critical message, it is, as the director said, “told in an upbeat way.”
Disney’s Newsies will not disappoint those who come to enjoy the singing and dancing that JRT is known for.
“The show is an adrenaline burst from the opening chords till the end,” said Gumina. “It’s like this onslaught of excitement and youthful exuberance. There is never a dull moment.”
Music Director Shelly Mangiacotti agreed. “From the opening song ‘Carrying the Banner’ to Katherine's ‘Watch What Happens’ to the finale ‘Once and For All,’ audiences will be treated to musical storytelling at its best!”
Disney’s Newsies is by Harvey Fierstein, and the music and lyrics are by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman. The show is directed by Janette Gaines, music directed by Shelly Mangiacotti, and choreographed by Lindy Ley. It is sponsored by Ballad Health, Murphy Inc, Acorn Electrical Specialists, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Lauren Anderson, Tim Barto, Dave Bernhardt, Tabatha Bird, Vanessa Bushell, Christopher Carroll, Lorianne Carver, Rhett Carver, Andy Cobble, Stephen Cradic, Gray Crum, Hollyn Dixon, Michael Emery, Sylvann Fox, Emma Garber, Ryan Gray, Laura Griffin, Emily Horvath, Isaiah Johnson, Charlie Landry, Lindy Ley, Emily Matney, Daniel Matthews, Tristan Matthews, Rachel Mauger, Jessie Scarbrough, Eli Simpson, Tom Sizemore, Marilyn Tagert, Alexis Turner, Joel VanEaton, Sergio Vidrio, Ansley Wilson, and Austin Wingate.
Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough, TN. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.