East Theater makes headlines with spring musical “Newsies”

Senior Rhys Dudley alongside his castmates perform on closing night of Newsies. “It felt fantastic. There’s nothing like putting on a show for an audience, especially a show we worked this hard on,” Dudley said. Photo courtesy of Rafael Gacek.

Over the course of the April 28th weekend, East theater put on four performances of Disney’s Newsies

The musical, 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 and strike in order to lower the prices of the papers they sell.

Senior Gia Zapanta, who played the intelligent love interest, Katherine, said performing was rejuvenating.

“Once I got into it I felt ecstatic with the crowd’s reaction. I felt so confident playing Katherine. She’s a bit sassy,” Zapanta said. “The entire cast felt so confident especially after not being able to perform on stage for a really long time.”

While the final product was considered a success by the cast, it did not come without some tribulations. Senior Rhys Dudley, who played the loyal friend and newsie Davey, said that the final show that audiences saw didn’t come without months of hard preparation. 

“I’m so proud of the show we put on it felt like a dream come true,” Dudley said. “It wasn’t that easy though. The dances were intricate and I struggled with those especially since there are so many big dancing scenes that were hard to get to how [junior dance captain] Caitlin [McDermott] wanted it. We definitely pulled it off though.”

Zapanta said that after reconstructing and choreographing some of the numbers, the final product was worth it. 

“All of our supporters believed in us and we believed in ourselves which was just so rewarding,” Zapanta added.

The overall feeling of accomplishment was shared by not only the performers but also by Director Nicole Chandler.

“The best part of this show is the camaraderie seen all throughout this production,” Chandler said.  “The relationships on and offstage are incredible and it translates to what we see on stage. The trust between actors, technicians, and the pit orchestra is admirable. I am so proud of this show.”

The production itself spans over two and a half hours with multiple fights and dance scenes, which McDermott said was tiring. 

“Being on that stage knowing that we’re all tired, we’re all hungry, we’re all hurting, but pushing through it is what really made me emotional,” McDermott added. 

As Newsies is East Theater’s last production for the year, Zapanta agreed how the moment was bittersweet and emotional, especially for seniors. 

“We’re all going to miss the show so much. It was such great energy not just during rehearsals but also even like during the show. No one was stressed or yelling,” Zapanta said. “We came off and everyone was crying tears of joy.” 

Although the Newsies seized the day and stopped the presses, East Theater has a lot of returning performers for next year’s production. “Lots of us are graduating, but Newsies brought in so many underclassmen who are so talented,” Dudley said. “The future shows Chandler and East Theater puts on are going to be really good with those returners.”

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

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