Drayton Entertainment’s Newsies will be making headlines this week in Woolwich, telling the classic David-and-Goliath tale loosely based on the newspaper strike of 1899.
The inspiring Broadway musical brings to the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse stage a tale of the working conditions of a band of street kids who sell newspapers in New York City. When Joseph Pulitzer and other titans of the publishing world raise their distribution prices without sufficiently compensating the newsboys, charismatic leader Jack Kelly (Kale Penny) rallies the workers across the city to strike against the unfair conditions.
Soon, the strike becomes bigger than anyone ever could have imagined and affects areas all across New York City. With the help of smart and savvy reporter Katherine Plumber (Julia McLellan), all of the city begins to recognize the plight of the newsboys, resulting in a change that resonated through the ages.
“The main message is that if a group of inspired and active young people get together, they can change the world,” said McLellan. “It doesn’t matter how small you are or how insignificant you feel. You can make a change if you put your foot forward and try to make it happen. So I think that’s the really inspiring message of this.”
The role of Plumber is not based on one specific person, but rather an amalgamation of several historical figures. McLellan said that while she watched other interpretations of Plumber, she did not focus too much on them, preferring instead to bring more of herself to the role.
“She’s this incredible person that’s grown up with immense privilege and would have gone to private school with a really rich family, but somehow she found this streak for social justice inside herself – she’s a feminist and hard-willed,” said McLellan, describing Plumber.
There is a large ensemble cast to accurately portray the scale of the newsboy strike, which effectively brought Brooklyn Bridge traffic to a standstill, and affected news distribution for many New England cities. The two-week strike caused Pulitzer’s New York World to decrease its daily circulation from 360,000 papers down to 125,000.
Along with the ensemble cast, there are thrilling dance numbers and a sensational score by Alan Menken. Award-winning choreographer Marc Kimelman will help to bring these astonishing dance numbers to life, featuring hit songs including “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.”
David Connolly directs this Disney dynamo, whose previous directing roles include Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, and Jack and the Beanstalk: The Panto.
“Newsies is an incredibly entertaining show bursting with impressive choreography, and fun, catchy songs – we’re very excited to bring this new Disney hit to the stage in Waterloo Region,” said artistic director Alex Mustakas. “Along with its dazzling dancing and memorable music, Newsies’ inspirational underdog story reminds all of us how young people have the power to change the world.”
“The great thing is the script is written by Harvey Fierstein, and what he brings to his scripts is a lot of truth, a lot of grit, and a lot of heart. It’s in the same vein as most of the big, splashy Broadway shows that you’ve seen but with a ton more heart and a lot more to cling to,” added McLellan. “When audiences come to see Newsies, rest assured you’re going to see absolutely everything that you want to see in a huge Broadway musical. It’s fun for every single age.”
Newsies runs to August 3 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets are $48 for adults and $29 for youth under 20, available in person at any Drayton Entertainment box office, by calling 1-855-372-9866 or online at www.draytonentertainment.com.