Centennial High delivers dose of 1899 with 'Newsies'
If you go
What: Disney's "Newsies" musical production by Centennial High School Performing Arts Department
When: 7 p.m. May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 18
Where: Centennial High School Auditorium, 3505 S.E. 182nd Ave. Gresham
Tickets: visit www.centennialhsor.seatyourself.biz
The setting and certain aspects of Disney's "Newsies" may seem antiquated, but the message and lessons from the 1899-based tale — as evidenced by its recent popularity with school theater troupes — are timeless.
The Centennial High School Performing Arts Department chose the popular, dance-filled musical, based on the Disney movie of the same name, as its season finale production. Performances are set for Thursday, May 9, through Saturday, May 18.
Set in New York City and based on the real-life Newsboys strike of 1899, "Newsies" conveys the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic teen who leads a scrappy group of newspaper delivery boys. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys' expense, Kelly and his fellow "newsies" spring into action.
The Centennial cast is led by senior Christopher Mendez as Jack; sophomore Beatrice Byrd as Katherine; Jackson Autry as Davey; and senior Lukas Hurley as Joseph Pulitzer.
Taking a break from rehearsals, Hurley joined stage manager Angel Morgan; senior Kaden Moss, who plays Race; Joseph Kaylor, who plays Mush; and director Kellie McCarty to talk with The Outlook about "Newsies" and ending Centennial's theater season with a bang.
The Outlook: How are rehearsals going so far?
Angel Morgan: They are going great and are very energetic. We are all working really hard to perform an awesome show that we can be proud of.
Kaden Moss: Rehearsals are going fantastic. Everyone is giving their all to this show and I think our work will pay off in a great show.
Outlook: How was "Newsies" chosen for Centennial Theatre's spring production finale?
Moss: Newsies was selected by our Drama Council and the directors. We chose it because it showcased the talent that we were fortunate enough to have this year. Since we were such a senior-heavy department this year, it seemed like a perfect swan song.
Outlook: Were students familiar with it before it was chosen?
Kellie McCarty: Most of the kids new the show because of the Broadway version that came out in 2012. I have known the show since the movie came out my senior year of high school in 1992.
]Outlook: What surprised or amused cast members while researching the play?
Hurley: The correlation between the show and the actual events was interesting. I especially liked learning about the inspiration for the character of Jack. He was a very charismatic kid with no education, who was able to inspire and rally all of these people.
Outlook: Is it both fun and challenging for students to adapt to antiquated ideas from a bygone era?
Morgan: Yes, it is funny to hear some of the expressions of the time period. They are so different from how we talk today.
Outlook: What other challenges does a "Newsies" production present?
Kaylor: There are a lot of sacrifices that each person has to make in order to make this the best show possible. "Newsies" requires an immense amount of energy day-in and day-out due to the level and amount of dance needed.
Outlook: What parallels do you see in "Newsies" between the late 1800s and now?
McCarty: It is amazing to me that next week, thousands of educators, including myself, are going to be walking off the job to fight for adequate funding for schools in our state. We are choosing to take a stand in order for the powerful to hear us. This is exactly what the newsies did in 1899 in order to earn a decent wage to live. Over a hundred years later, and we still strive to have a voice for our youth.
Outlook: Is there a sentimental feeling, particularly among seniors, about this being the final production of the season?
Hurley: Absolutely! I can't even remember a time that I wan't involved in a show at Centennial. It has been such a huge part of my life and I can't imagine what it will be like to sit in the audience and watch a show.
Morgan: With this being my last show, and my favorite musical, it makes this experience really special to me. This is my drama family, and I will miss them and the experiences we have shared.
Moss: The reason that I wanted to do this show is because it requires so much focus and energy, and I wanted my last show here to be something that we could give our all to.
Kaylor: "Newsies" is about a band of brothers and sisters that come together in the face of adversity, and to me, that represents our drama family. Obviously, it is bittersweet."