By: Julian Duvivier ‘22, Arts and Technology Reporter 2-11-19
Breaking news: the Friends’ Central Upper School Drama Program’s adaptation of Newsies will debut at 7:00pm on Friday March 1st, followed by two performances on Saturday March 2nd at 2:00 and 7:00. Newsies is a well-loved broadway production inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899. The play follows New York Newspaper Delivery Boy Jack (Benny Flora ’20) his comrade Davey (Thad Bashaw ’20), as well as their fellow newsies— poor, orphaned, and homeless youth— in their protest against the unfair distribution prices of Newspaper Tycoon Joseph Pulitzer (Alejandro Lopez ‘20). Throughout its many musical numbers, tap dances, and fight scenes, the play explores protest and the power of standing together through hardship.
The brilliance of the performance lies in the play’s cast of characters, its choreography, and the incredible energy of its musical numbers. The play’s thematic strengths are multifaceted. Actor Ben Miller ‘20 shares, “[Newsies] has its musical theatre aspects and songs, but it also has its more dramatic scenes... It changes between many different themes, and can go from a fight scene, to an economics discussion, to a tap dance.” In these ways, the FCS version of the play matches the strengths of a broadway musical: it features extraordinary energy and style, paired with moments that can fill you with wonder and woe or make you jump for joy. Things to watch out for in Newsies include the creative props and settings throughout the show. Whether throwing newspapers or tap dancing on tables, the set is constantly active. This energy is particularly highlighted in “King of New York,” a song that sits as the crown of the entire performance and is the currently the show’s best-rehearsed number.
The strength of the play is credit to the writers but, just as importantly, to the cast, which in our case includes 46 student-actors from grades nine through twelve. Stage Manager Ankitha Gundala ‘22 mentions that this year’s cast is uniquely “assorted from different grades” and has many varied talents, as reiterated by Ben, who mentions that “some people are primarily actors, some sing, and others dance but we have all become a cohesive bunch and learned from other’s strengths.” This diverse group of students has been cast in the roles of poor orphans, New York citizens, a businessman, a notable New York governor, and many children speaking out about their rights for fair pay. They have spent these past months preparing and, according to Stage Manager Nicole Gilliland ‘20, it has been “great getting to know everyone's character’s backgrounds, stories, and personas.” As many have witnessed before, the Friends’ Central Drama program is filled with talent and personality that shines through in each and every one of their enthralling performances.
The work done over the past few months has begun to come together into what will be three incredible shows at 7:00pm on Friday, March 1st and 7:00 and 2:00 Saturday, March 2nd. Newsies promises to excite and engage us in the captivating story of the weak standing against the strong, presented with bravado and style from the talented cast. The efforts of the entire drama program have gone into this show so come for an opening night of passionate performance.