East Theater set to perform musical adaptation of Disney’s “Newsies”

Dance Captain Caitlin McDermott and her fellow castmates rehearse a number for Newsies. “We’ve worked on our technique a lot. Dancing isn’t easy so we spent lots of time making sure every detail was refined,” McDermott said. Photo courtesy of Oswego East Theatre Instagram.

East’s Fine Arts Department will present Disney’s movie-turned musical Newsies on April 28th through the 30th at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

Based on the real-life Newsboy strike of 1899, Newsies tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy who longs for a life outside of the big city. After publishing executive Joseph Pulitzer raises the price of the papers newsboys pay the price. With the help of his friends, Kelly proves to New York that “the little man” is stronger than they think in this two-and-a-half-hour musical.

Cast members of Newsies, have been working hard since February to perfect every detail of the musical, even their accents.

Junior and first-time musical participant Ashley Sniegowski said that staying in a New York accent was difficult but necessary in order to give the musical the most authentic energy possible.

“Staying in a New York Accent has definitely been a struggle for me since I play Wiesel,” Sniegowski explained. “I tend to start with it and it just fades away but, I and my other crewmates are trying to focus on small things like that as we head into tech week.”

Even though the cast had worked on and continues to work through some bumps going into the final weeks of rehearsal, the choreography aspect of Newsies is something that cast members and Dance Captain Caitlin McDermott have been struggling with.

“Some of the dance numbers could use some love still,” Sniegowski said.

McDermott added that some of the choreography from the show has presented the production with the most challenges.

“We’ve all been working really hard on our technique but Newsies just has a lot of big fight scenes and numbers and lots of the cast hasn’t had much dance experience so it’s definitely gotten better,” McDermott explained. “We’ve improved so much and it’s really starting to come together.”

Besides working through some issues with dancing, cast and crew alike have put their best effort into assuring that Newsies is a success.

DirectorNicole Chandler assured that the hard work is beginning to show as rehearsals go on.

“We’ve been busy but it’s paying off, expressions look more distinct, and dances look more refined, everyone has worked so hard and it’s been great to start to see it pay off,” Chandler said.

Dramatic lead and senior Carter Mathison will portray Jack in Newsies, and he shared that through ups and downs, the cast pulled through.

“The hardest part of a rehearsal for me has been the pacing,” Mathison said. “I want to put on the best performance possible and go full 100%. But at the same time, I needed to learn when to pace myself and realize that for individual solo moments to sound better.”

Fellow senior Matthew Gutzwiller, who was cast as Mr. Pulitzer, also shared how pacing has been a struggle as the cast prepares for opening night.

“The show is pretty fast-paced, there’s only one black-out in the show and it’s at the very end of act one. Because of this, we as a cast need to carry out the set changes ourselves, and I think they could be executed cleaner and faster,” Gutzwiller said.

Despite the fast-paced nature of Newsies, Gutzwiller and Mathison share the excitement as they head into tech week.

“Mr. Pulitzer is a bad, bad guy who exploits children for labor in order to make a little extra cash,” Gutzwiller explained. “Getting into the mentality of a jerk of an old man who doesn’t care about the morality of his actions is fun but very challenging. I think the audience is really going to enjoy the dynamic Carter and I have.”

With their unique dynamic, Mathison shared that the connections between the cast have led to improved performances.

“The excitement of wanting to stay after school to rehearse and unite with like-minded people is really paying off. I think it’s going to show too,” Mathison said.

As Newsies is the final production this year, pressures along with bittersweet emotions have culminated to make such an iconic show as perfect as it can be.

“Knowing that this is my last show has driven me and the other seniors to make this our best one yet,” Gutzwiller added. “Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, we’ve been working incredibly hard and I think we are all proud of what we’ve accomplished with Newsies.”

Samantha Trujillo is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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