Posted Date: 11/08/2018
Vocal music teacher Natalie Hamilton used a Netflix opportunity last year to show her students a live Broadway performance of the Disney musical “Newsies.”
“They took to it like wildfire,” Hamilton said. “They liked it immediately and I liked it.”
The Chanute High School students began identifying with the characters and memorizing songs. When it came time to choose the fall musical at CHS, Hamilton thought she “could get along with these songs” and that it was time to do a big show again.
“Newsies” is based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899 in New York City. When publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack Kelly and his fellow newsies take action. The show will be performed at Chanute High School on Friday and Saturday, at 7 p.m. Tickets, $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under, are available at the door. It is directed by Hamilton with assistance from Chase Reed and Robert Hamilton.
The show’s “big flashy dancing” and characters appealed to the music students.
“It struck a chord with them,” Hamilton said. “The kids started identifying with specific characters. They started quoting lines from specific characters, and not just the leads … there were certain characters they identified with and wanted to play.”
Freshman Rheniah Toledo felt she was a lot like the character Les, “very energetic” and fun to play. “He’s confident,” she said. “He’s a little kid and he’s like everywhere. I get to use all my energy.”
Junior Marc-Anthony Smith said Race was memorable for him because he always has a cigar in his mouth.
“He’s a fun guy, very quirky,” Smith said. “I try to match his voice inflections and everything. I’ve looked at his habits and how he interacts with the other guys.”
The show is filled with song and dance and almost all the characters are boys, which could have been a casting nightmare.
“I was really lucky because I had a lot of boys step up and want to be in the show,” Hamilton said, and that encouraged others to come out as well. “It also helped that Mr. (Lance) Burnett did ‘Lion King’ last year” at the middle school. “Some of those students were already hooked and they wanted to stay involved.”
Ty Galemore was one of those. He likes the singing and dancing and auditioned for and was chosen for the role of Mr. Pulitzer.
“I thought he was going to be the only part whose notes I can hit,” said the baritone.
Junior Jillian Vogel set her sights on the female reporter.
“I really wanted to play Katherine, mostly because she’s super sassy and fun and she’s also a female,” she said. The last two years she was cast in boy’s roles, and in middle school she played the part of Judas in “Godspell.”
Vogel likes playing the feminist trying to break into what was a male profession in 1899.
“It’s really empowering,” she said. “The theme is ‘Don’t give up’ and Jack gives up often but with the encouragement of others they all end up working together to achieve.”
Bryan Ayala, plays Jack Kelly, the ringleader of the newsies who organizes a strike against newspaper giant, Pulitzer.
“I mainly really like the music that comes with the character I get to sing,” Ayala said. “He’s a good example of being selfless and a good leader.”
Living on the streets, sleeping on rooftops, the boys with no parents learn to take care of each other.
“I want people to see the power the character has, the determination,” Ayala said. “(Jack) can be so emotional, through the tough exterior he has.”
Cast members of Newsies include:
Bryan Ayala as Jack Kelly; John Stanley as Crutchie; Marc-Anthony Smith as Race; Thomas Ramsey as Albert; Bryce Bingham as Specs; Keondre Gregory as Henry; Susanne Cunningham as Finch; Nathan Stanley as Elmer; Colten Fritch as Romeo; Kenzi Boyd as Mush; Savannah Crellin as Buttons; Alyssa Ramsey as Tommy Boy; Breann Umbarger as Jo Jo; Marly Castleberry as Mike; Emma Atherton, Alyssa Andoyo, Annayah Yap, Darci Marshall, Mika Keenan, Aimee Riggs, Abigail Smith, Karli Bash and Breuana DuVal as newsies; Jillian Vogel as Katherine; Leanne Reeves as Darcy; Sabrina Brittan, Alison Shields and Breuana DuVal as nuns; Lucas Reeves as Morris Delancey; Kaden Bash as Oscar Delancey; Dustin Cooney as Wiesel; Jacob Guernsey as Davey; Rheniah Toledo as Les; Aimee Riggs as Woman Customer; Ty Galemore as Joseph Pulitzer; Breuana DuVal as Seitz; Marly Castleberry as Bunsen; Alayna Inbody as Hannah; Aaron Rodriguez as Nunzio; William Guan as Snyder; Grace Lewis as Medda Larkin; Dustin Cooney as Stage Manager; Alyssa Ramsey, Emma Atherton and Alyssa Andoyo as the Bowery Beauties; Dustin Cooney as Mr. Jacobi; Karli Bash, Kenzi Boyd and Annayah Yap as Scabs; Aaron Rodriquez as Mayor; Brody Weese as Spot Conlon; and Dustin Cooney as Gov. Roosevelt.