Newsies

Energetic “Newsies” sets a high bar for future productions of Disney show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Much went into the staging of the pilot edition of the Disney musical “Newsies.” Being among the first high schools to stage the show before it is officially released for production means the production team has to figure a lot out for themselves. There’s not a template to build on. The dress rehearsal staged for local senior citizens Wednesday was a testament to their hard work. That show also demonstrated that the most important element needed to pull the show off is collective energy, a cast that not only sings and dances together, but their hearts beat as one. “Newsies” was powered by more than 60 batteries… dancing, singing, playing, acting batteries on stage and in the orchestra pit, ably abetted by those in the wings. ”Newsies” has the emotional punch that leaves a catch in your throat at the end. That power comes from real ensemble interplay. These teens playing kids their own age capture the spirit of their peers from 120 years ago, and bring it to life on the stage. You believe these youngsters would take on the goons and police. Disney’s “Newsies: The Broadway Musical,” directed by Jo Beth Gonzalez, opens tonight (Feb. 1) at 7 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. It continues with 7 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday. (Click for ticket information and full cast list http://bgindependentmedia.org/start-spreading-the-news-newsies-opens-feb-1-at-bghs/). The show is the product an esteemed Broadway team with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and book by Harvey Fierstein. “Newsies” opens with two young men just waking up in the bleak morning hours on a New York City fire escape.   Crutchie (Ethan Brown) is, true to his nickname, hobbled, but still determined to hit the streets to sell the “papes,” Newsies’ slang for newspapers. His best friend encourages him but Jack (Hudson Pendleton) has dreams. He longs to move to Santa Fe where he can “split rails” and “tell tales around the fire.” Such a different world than the crowded, dirty one he knows in New York City. But he’s very much a creature of these streets. He’s looked up to by the other news hawkers, made ruffians by their milieu. When newbie newsies Davey (Joseph Kalmar) and his little brother (Liam Rogel or Cole Boswell, who split duties Wednesday) show up, Jack takes them under his…


BG high students breaking in ‘Newsies’ musical for school productions

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The young thespians and their adult mentors at Bowling Green High School are ready to set the pace for their peers across the country by piloting the Broadway musical, “Newsies.” Their mission, shared by about a half dozen other schools, is to stage the popular show. Director Jo Beth Gonzalez and the rest of the staff will then share their insights into what it takes to produce the musical with a high school cast. That could result in the production company, Musical Theater International, tweaking certain aspects that prove too difficult for young actors and crews. Their input will also be shared in production notes that will be included when other high schools rent the script. The Bowling Green High School theater is no stranger to this process. They did their first pilot production with “Mary Poppins” in 2014, followed by “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Those projects gave choreographer Bob Marzola an idea. He loved the musical “Newsies.” He became a fan of the original 1992 film starring Christian Bale when he saw it on television. Hat film was a flop at the time of its release, but became a cult classic when it was added to the Nickelodeon rotation and was released on video. Later as a fourth grade teacher at Conneaut Elementary, Marzola used the film and its story about a strike by young newspaper peddlers to talk about labor and the Industrial Revolution. “I got my students hooked on the movie,” he said. Disney turned the movie into a Broadway musical where it was a Tony Award-winning hit. Marzola wondered when Disney would release the performance rights for high schools and if Bowling Green could pilot it. He asked Gonzalez, and she asked MTI, the umbrella organization for Disney musicals. Not yet, she was told. He asked again. She asked again. Not yet. Then last spring, just as the musical theater team at the high school was starting to discuss what musical to stage in spring 2018, Gonzalez was offered the script. They jumped at the chance. MTI, though, said they wanted it staged in February “because they want to get licensing deals out in the spring,” Gonzalez said. The show will run in the Performing Arts Center, Feb. 1-3 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10 for students and seniors, and available through…