Zionsville Community High School Presents: “Newsies!”
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ZCHS proudly presents Disney’s “Newsies!” Coming to the Zionsville Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Nov. 14 through Saturday, Nov. 16. Tickets are currently on sale and are going fast!
Set in turn-of-the-century New York City, “Newsies!” is based on the real-life newsboy strike of 1899 when publishing titan Joseph Pulitzer—the villain of “Newsies!”—raised distribution prices at the newsboys’ (often called newsies) expense. The Disney musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy, and his fellow newsies and the action they took.
Directing his first fall musical as a member of the ZCHS staff, Sam Chenoweth is excited to share this production with the audiences and credits the students and his colleagues for their dedication and hard work that everyone has been investing into this exciting production.
I have covered Chenoweth’s work at his former high school, Carmel, and can personally vouch for the high energy he brings to each production and his ability to bring the best out of the students.
“Working with Anne [Beck] and sharing the duties has made it immensely easier for both of us,” Chenoweth shared. “We are able to knock twice as much work out, and her familiarity with the program and the kids is also incredibly helpful as I continue to learn about their individual abilities and strengths. Additionally, two heads are better than one in terms of the design approach. Her knowledge of the space and what works here combined with my ‘new’ view has been a good collaboration.”
Chenoweth shared that he is most impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and work ethic.
“I’ve been really impressed with the fact that kids are really enjoying the show,” he said. “I’m impressed by their enthusiasm and professionalism, which has made the rehearsal process very enjoyable.”
The brilliant choreography is once again under the direction of Anne Beck, resident choreographer at ZCHS, who also recently choreographed The Civic Theatre’s production of Disney’s “Newsies!”
“The show has a wonderful true story in its book. So, as I told the kids, we tell the story first and accentuate that story with the choreography,” Beck shared. “In every production I create, my goal is to make everyone look their best. So, they will not look like the original Broadway choreography, who had dancers with years and decades of dance training—we are making this show THEIRS! I absolutely will challenge them to stretch themselves, learn new skill sets. The Zionsville community will witness strong newsies fighting for what they believe in behind every step they do. It is a strong cast full of artists that have been working hard to learn the large, choreographically staged numbers. The style of movement is much more grounded and pedestrian and pertinent to the action. Less full of tricks and balletic quality than the original had.”
ZCHS seniors Hayden Elefante and Olivia Broadwater are playing the lead roles of Jack Kelly and Katherine Plumber in their final fall musical of their high school careers. Both plan on pursing music theater in college.
Elefante became a fan of “Newsies!” after seeing the Disney movie in middle school.
“I wasn’t a big musical guy at that point,” he shared. “Then I saw the movie, and it’s been one of my favorite shows ever since. When I found out we were doing it [here], I was like ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’”
Elefante described learning to be Jack Kelly, which meant he had to examine Kelly’s rough exterior and insecure interior.
“Jack’s an interesting character because on the outside he looks like this big, strong leader, but on the inside, he’s scared of being close to someone because of his rough past,” Elefante said. “He’s been on his own, and he has these boys that are the only ‘family’ he has. He keeps singing about this dream fantasy he has and wants to go to Santa Fe because he doesn’t think he can make it in the city and sees the strike as an opportunity for himself.”
Broadwater is playing Katherine Plumber, a young, female journalist who catches Kelly’s eye. Though Plumber initially brushes him off, the pair eventually develop strong feelings for each other.
“I am so excited to play the role of Katherine, a woman who is helping these boys in a time when they’re fighting for equality, but at the same, as a woman, she is fighting for equality for herself,” Broadwater shared. “It’s been great to see that duality fighting for equal rights and making the best of what they can with their respective positions.”
Broadwater continued, “Being Katherine, I’ve had to have dual personalities. I have to hold myself in a high position and be strong in front of everyone, and I’m trying so hard to reach my goals, but I am also this quirky person.”
When asked what these last four years have meant to them and their thoughts on working with Chenoweth and Beck, Elefante and Broadwater shared their reflections.
“It’s crazy, I’ve been with these people for four years, and it goes by so quick,” Elefante expressed. “Everybody is focused and really cares about being in this show. The cast, the directors and the entire team wants to make it the best show it can be.”
Broadwater added, “Being with these people for four year has been amazing. When you’re in a musical, you live a different life. I feel so close to them [her peers] because I have lived so many lives with them. My heart is so happy with this whole experience. Mr. Chenoweth is an amazing person, and he definitely puts his heart and soul into everything he does. He’s a great spirit to have around. And Anne definitely does not go easy on you. She gives you insanely hard choreography, but it’s insanely good, and she knows we can do it. She pushes us to that standard of Broadway shows, and it’s amazing to have someone—locally—who pushes us at that level.”
Don’t miss Disney’s “Newsies!” at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center! Tickets are available at zionsvillepac.org or (317) 733-4833.