668e7d41-bbb9-4213-af9e-64b198c34cbb copyGet ready to seize the day and be swept off your feet by the power of youth and the spirit of rebellion! Arts Collective Theatre (ACT) Windsor is set to make headlines with their upcoming production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Newsies Jr.” at the Capitol Theatre from May 10-12, 2024. This inspiring tale of courage, friendship, and standing up for what’s right promises to be a front-page sensation that will have audiences cheering from the stands.

“Newsies” tells the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy who dreams of a better life beyond the streets of New York City. When publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies his fellow “newsies” to strike against the unfair conditions. With the help of the determined reporter Katherine Plumber, the newsboys fight for their rights and challenge the powerful forces that seek to exploit them.

 

The musical, based on the 1992 Disney film of the same name, features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, with a book by Harvey Fierstein. “Newsies” premiered on Broadway in 2012 and quickly became a fan favorite, earning eight Tony nominations and winning two, including Best Choreography and Best Original Score.

Becca Silvius, ACT’s Youth Creative Director & Mentor, expressed her excitement about bringing this powerful story to life on stage. “It’s an important story to tell because as most social justice issues, what was present in 1899 is still relevant and applicable today. Not to mention that the story revolves around children. Who better to demonstrate that story but children!”

Silvius emphasized the relevance of the musical’s themes to ACT’s mission and the goals of the Youth Creative program. “Disney’s Newsies Jr. serves as a catalyst for achieving ACT’s mission and the goals of the Youth Creative program by promoting social justice, fostering inclusivity, empowering youth, and engaging the community through the transformative power of theatre.”

When asked about the key themes and messages she hopes will resonate with the young cast and audience, Silvius highlighted the importance of understanding the historical context and its parallels to contemporary issues. “Some of the key themes in the show include Worker’s Rights, Children’s Rights and Poverty. I think it’s so important for today’s youth to understand where we’ve come as a society since this story took place and how it still applies today.”

Silvius, who has an extensive background in dance and music, shared her vision for the show’s iconic choreography. “The choreography for the show is really what drew me to it in the first place. It’s a big undertaking. The key when planning out the numbers is to really make them purposeful and real. It should feel like a group of kids on the street together, not just a big spectacle of motion.”

The role of Jack Kelly, the charismatic leader of the newsboys, will be played by Rowan Alice, a talented young actor who has impressed Silvius with his ability to embody the character. “Rowan has a lot of life experience to pull from when channeling the character of Jack and it’s really remarkable to see him transform into a new person as soon as he steps onto the stage. Plus, his voice will blow everyone away!”

Silvius also highlighted the importance of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all cast members, regardless of their prior experience or background. “ACT implements these strategies so directors and mentors can ensure that each cast member feels valued, respected, and integral to the story, regardless of the size of their role.”

As a longtime member of Windsor and Essex County’s theatre community, Silvius expressed her excitement about the future of youth theatre in the region. “The most exciting part about watching these young kids grow their talent at such a young age is that 5 to 10 years from now, they’ll be leading members of the adult theatre community and it means that the caliber and quality of the shows in this area will just continue to grow. It’s an honour to be a part of that process.”

23cdbd93-ae69-4de0-8b82-1284bd0e7c21 copySilvius and her team have been working diligently to help the cast connect with and understand the historical context of the newsboy strike of 1899 that inspired “Newsies.” “We’ve done some research together as an ensemble to help learn more about the story that we are portraying,” she explained. “I think the best way to approach such a complex story with kids is to try and find something that they can relate to. Everyone, even the 8-year-olds in our cast, have a social justice issue or two that resonates with them and helping them put themselves in the shoes of these young children who didn’t have anyone to fight for them is the key.”

The Youth Creative program aims to inspire confidence and a lifelong love of the arts, and Silvius believes that a show like “Newsies Jr.” perfectly supports those goals. “A show like Newsies Jr. provides a transformative and enriching experience that supports the goals of the Youth Creative program by inspiring confidence, fostering collaboration, encouraging artistic exploration, promoting personal growth, and nurturing a lifelong love of the arts among students.”

Silvius is particularly excited about the unique skills and perspectives that her young cast will bring to their roles and the story of “Newsies Jr.” “Our cast consists of a lot of people that grew up in the Downtown Windsor area. It isn’t always the easiest way to grow up. Even in a youth environment, I think our kids have a unique perspective on life to bring to each of their individual characters. I think our production will stand out because of how much our cast understands what their characters are fighting for.”

For Silvius, mentoring the next generation of theatre artists through the Youth Creative program is a deeply enriching experience. “Working with kids reminds me of how I learned so much about theatre and dance as a kid and it really helps me have a better appreciation for all those involved in theatre and how many hands it requires to put a show together. It helps me better understand how to teach in different ways because everyone learns differently and I can take those methods with me into larger scale productions, especially in a choreography environment.”

When it comes to creating a welcoming space for cast members who are new to musical theatre, Silvius and her co-director Kianna extended a warm welcome to all from the moment they joined the production. “We held a free dance workshop for any youth who wanted to try out but were a bit nervous about auditioning, or wanted to find out if theatre was what they wanted to experience. We embraced inclusive casting practices that value diversity and provide opportunities for all cast members to participate and contribute meaningfully to the production, regardless of prior experience or background.”

Silvius’s advice to young people who dream of being a part of something like “Newsies Jr.” one day is to get involved in local theatre productions, school plays, or community arts programs, and to continuously work on honing their craft and developing their talents. “Build relationships with fellow theatre enthusiasts, mentors, and industry professionals who can offer guidance, support, and opportunities for growth. And do not forget to have fun!”

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the incredible talent and passion of ACT’s young cast as they bring the timeless story of “Newsies Jr.” to life on stage. The show runs from May 10-12, 2024, at the Capitol Theatre in Windsor, Ontario. Tickets are available now, so secure your seats and get ready to be inspired by the power of youth and the enduring message of standing up for what’s right.

As seen in the April 2024 issue:

519 Issue 67 March 2024 cover 2.0

 

 

 

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