Read all About it! Disney’s Newsies live on Stage

By: Diana Brang-Scott

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NEWSIES, the new American musical, features a Tony® Award-winning score with music by eight-time Academy Award® winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman. The stage version introduces seven brand-new songs by the original team of Menken and Feldman, including a song written specifically for the tour called ‘Letter from the Refuge,’. But do not worry it still includes many of the beloved songs from the 1992 film, including ‘Carrying the Banner, ‘Seize the Day,’ ‘King of New York’ and ‘Santa Fe.’[gap height=”12″]
The musical was adapted from the book written by four-time Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein and is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, NEWSIES is directed by Tony® nominee Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, who won a 2012 Tony Award® for his work.
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Newsies, a Disney Theatrical Production under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Newsies, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, book by Harvey Fierstein, starring Dan Deluca (Jack Kelly), Steve Blanchard (Joseph Pulitzer), Stephanie Styles (Katherine Plumber), Angela Grovey (Medda), Jacob Kemp (Davey), Zachary Sayle (Crutchie), Anthony Rosenthal or Vincent Crocilla (Les) and Matthew J. Schechter (Les) under the direction of Jeff Calhoun, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, North American Tour premiere Thursday October 30 Philadelphia
Newsies, a Disney Theatrical Production

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Newsies is inspired by the real-life “Newsboy Strike of 1899” and is set in New York City at the turn of the century. At that time, the streets of New York City were filled with the voices of the Newsboys doing all they could to get the attention of a passersbyer to purchase one of their papers. These Newsboys were made up of mostly poor orphans and runaways. They slept on the streets of New York, and the only way they made money was from selling papers. Back then, newspapers were the only types of media in the city, there was no television, or social media like today. Newspapers were the only ways to get information about what was going on in the world and there were only two major newspapers sold, ‘The New York World’ and ‘The New York Journal’. These were owned by the two most powerful men in the city of New York, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.[gap height=”12″]
The band of teenage newsie rag a muffins is led by Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy ’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right.[gap height=”12″]
I spoke with Newsies cast member Iain Young, who is a Michigan native from Novi. Iain knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a performer, and he began dancing when he was just 9 years old. I asked Iain how the musical differs from the movie version. He said, “The story and the plot remain the same, but the musical version has changed the role of the reporter from a male to a Female, which now creates a love interest for one of the characters. The musical also has new songs and much more dancing than the original movie version.”[gap height=”12″]
I read that the set consists of three levels, rises over 24 feet high and features three completely automated towers, built of steel, aluminum and weighs seven and a half tons. The cast climbs upwards of 75 steps to reach the set’s nine distinct playing areas. Iain compared the set to a giant jungle gym for the newsies to run, jump and climb on. He said it is a very physical role that he and fellow cast members must warm up for each and every night.[gap height=”12″]
I asked Iain if he felt that there was a message for the audience in this show. He said, “Yes, this is a total underdog story, it’s a David and Goliath story. The poor newsboys who have nothing, and feel like they have no power, go up against the rich controllers of the newspaper. The boys soon discover that when they all come together and fight, they learn they do have strength and power and end up on top.”[gap height=”12″]
I went on to ask if there was ever a moment that he can relate to like this in his own life? He said, “Yes, the struggle of being a male dancer. Of course I faced ridicule growing up and in school; it’s not the ‘normal’ thing for a boy to do, but I knew it’s what I wanted to do. Now all my hard work and perseverance has paid off and I get to be part of this incredible show. I believe if you work hard enough at something, you can achieve it.”[gap height=”12″]
I asked him if he had any words of advice for any young male dancers. “That is such an inspiring thing for me, knowing that I get to do this show for other young people who were like me. I would just say keep going, it gets hard, it’s not an easy business, but you have to keep trying and keep pushing ahead, don’t lose sight of what you want, you can succeed.” [gap height=”12″]
The Tony® Award-winning production will begin performances at the Detroit Opera House on Tuesday, December 15 for a limited holiday season engagement of two weeks through Sunday, December 27. Come by and see Iain and the rest of the cast of Newsies.[gap height=”12″]

Tickets will be available for purchase at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online at or

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Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Detroit Opera House and Fisher Theatre box office.