Get out your placards and protest songs, because it’s time to step back in time and carry a banner with Delta Youth Theatre’s production of Disney’s Newsies Jr. playing from Dec. 2 to 11 at the South Delta Secondary’s Equinox Theatre.
Audiences of all ages will be inspired by this rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of young newsies in Manhattan, New York, in the 1890s. When titans of publishing raise newspaper prices at the newsies’ expense, Jack rallies young workers from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for their rights. Adapted especially for young performers, this musical is packed with non-stop musical theatre thrills, amazing sets, features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein. Newsies JR. offers a timeless message of hope that’s perfect for the whole family as the holiday season nears.
The 90-minute musical, designed for young performers, is directed by Tony Barton and Tracy Neff and is based on the 1992 Disney film Newsies and the 2012 Broadway production of the same name.
The cast includes 78 young actors plus some special alumni and guests.
“I watched the original Disney movie on VHS when I was young and now 30 years later, these young performing arts students are watching the Broadway version of the show on Disney Plus, belting out the songs and connecting to the story – I think we can call that an enduring classic,” said Neff.
It’s a tough world that Kelly and his fellow newsies - orphaned and homeless - inhabit; in a time when child labour was common place.
“Our keyword for Newsies is ‘grit’. We are trying to get students to connect to a way of life where hard-working young people were exploited,” added Barton. “Where they had no rights or freedoms and no guarantee that their basic needs would be met.”
Ironically, Barton and Neff reveal that while directing the show they were asked to fill out a couple of reference letters for graduating students and one of the questions they were asked to speak to was the students’ ‘grit.’
Neff said the directing team had never seen this character trait highlighted in the past.
“It made us realize that the world is not only wanting to watch actors personify this quality on stage, but is asking us as educators to support and encourage this type of courage and resolve in young people,” she said.
DYT not only attracts student performers from Delta but boasts young talent from Langley, Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Surrey.
As always, Neff and Barton credit the success of DYT productions to the incredible support of its production team, staff, volunteers, students and parents including so many past Delta students and families who helped to build DYT.
Tickets are available online at deltayouththeatre.com, or call 604-417-7748. Equinox Theatre is located at 750 53rd Street in Delta.