SWARTZ CREEK — The Swartz Creek High School and Middle School Drama Clubs will return to the stage with Disney’s musical “Newsies.”
“Newsies” opens at 7 p.m. Friday, April 30, Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2, and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2. Tickets cost $15 and are available online only at swcrkpac.org/high-school-drama-club.html.
“Newsies” loosely chronicles the 1899 New York City Newsboys’ strike. The newsboys launched a strike after newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, raised the price that the paperboys paid for the papers they hawked on the streets of Manhattan.
“We chose to produce the musical ‘Newsies’ because we believe that it is a timeless story that is appropriate for all ages,” said teacher and director Natalie Cooper.
“Newsies” will be the second show to combine performers from both the high school and middle school drama clubs.
“This afforded many opportunities for both levels to expand their skills as well as teach valuable lessons about how to pull off a giant production like a musical,” said Cooper.
“We were most excited about the opportunity for our students to actually perform on stage after a full year of theater shutdowns and disappointments. Last spring, both the middle and high school spring productions had to be canceled due to the pandemic. These students are extremely eager to show the community what they love to do.”
The cast includes Brendan Johnson as Jack Kelly, Tanner Wykes as Crutchie, Aaron Hicks as Davey and Jacob Hanson as Les.
The show will be the final high school performance for Johnson, a senior who has been accepted into the performing arts program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Johnson said he’s looking forward to bringing Jack Kelly to life.
“I like his charisma,” said Johnson. “He’s very much a leader, in every sense of the word. I admire his dedication to his family (the other orphans) and making a better life for the boys.”
Preparing for the high-energy production has been a challenge, he said.
“There are so many dance numbers,” Johnson said. “The vocal parts are pretty demanding, as well. Overall, it’s a very demanding show, acting-wise, singing-wise or dancing-wise.”
Senior Morgan Gomes, who plays Katherine Plumber, said the pandemic, with social distancing and mask mandates, has added another layer of difficulty.
“It’s really challenging to be as expressive with a mask on,” she said. “I personally love being expressive in my scenes, even if I’m not saying lines. I like to be reactive and that manifests most prominently in my face. But I’ve learned how to get those emotions across without relying on my face as much. My acting via body language has improved immensely during the pandemic. I have a lot of fun finding new ways to get my point across and throwing in the attitude of my character.”
Gomes describes Katherine Plumber as “super sassy and ambitious.”
“(She’s) a woman who knows what she wants and will do whatever she can to get it,” Gomes said. “I love immersing myself in that mindset because I really resonate with it and find inspiration in her independence.”
With the diversity of characters in “Newsies,” everyone in the audience will find someone to whom they can relate.
“I really like how this show is centered on a diverse group of newsies that have lines, solos and features here and there that personalize the ensemble in a way that makes the show far more engaging,” Gomes said.
“It makes the audience able to get invested in the characters and plot of the show, as opposed to if there were only a few newsies they could connect with.”
Other newsies include Peyton Dupuis as Albert, Marlie Carmack as Buttons, Roune Todd as Elmer, Conner Pier as Henry, Skyler Clark as Finch, Reed Snyder as Ike, Ashlee Archer as JoJo, Savanna Lara as Mike, Ashley Sharkey as Mush, Hope Lane as Race, Christian Huron as Romeo, Micah Earl as Specs, Rex Bierman as Splasher and Maddie Klepoch as Tommy Boy.
Danny Downs, Sydney Berry and Peyton O’Brien will play Scabs 1, 2 and 3. Additional roles include Ethan Gardner as Spot Conlon, Lucy Frye as Darcy, Dupuis as Bill, Ava Jo Heathcoat as Wiesel, Nate Hensen as Oscar Delancey, Edgar Hall as Morris Delancey, Ryan Brown as Joseph Pulitzer, Emily Hazel as Seitz, Earl as Bunsen, Alaina Cook as Hannah, Emily Fallowfield as Nunzio, Downs as the guard, Jason Hernandez as Snyder, Kya Cawood as Medda Larkin, Isabella Ward as stage manager, Jayda Jenkins as photographer, Madeline Hall as the woman, Hansen as Mr. Jacobi, Bierman as the mayor, and Gardner as Gov. Teddy Roosevelt.
The Bowery Beauties dancers will be Hazel, Lara, Sharkey, Todd, Clark, Heathcoat, Klepoch, Archer, Lacey LaBombard, O’Brien, Kayli Cole and Cook.
Cook, Hazel, Cole, Anna Eldred and Berry also will play nuns; and, Fallowfield, Hall, Downs, Taryn Brown, Berry, LaBombard, O’Brien and Gardner will portray policemen.
The goons will include Frye, Hall, Sophia Willyerd, Ward and Eldred; and, the Newsies ensemble will be Brown, Ward, Hall, Willyerd, Eldred, Fallowfield, LaBombard, Jenkins, O’Brien, Downs, Berry, Klepoch, Cole, Heathcoat, Hazel, Cook, and Frye.