By John Lee
MADISON – “Newsies JR.” from Disney, the story of a young newsboy who fights for what is right in the news business, is on view at the Center Players Community Theater at the Madison Square Center for the Arts from 9-12 June and from June 16 to 19. .
Center Players productions take place at the Madison Square Center for the Arts. The Center Players was formed in 2001 by a group of theater enthusiasts, The Center Players Community. It is the only community theater in Madison County.
Newsies Jr. manager Megan Mayhan said it was a huge performance.
“It’s a gigantic musical, from the dances to the vocals,” Mayhan said. “Everything about this show is a powerhouse. The Disney movie it’s based on has become a cult classic and I know we’ve done it justice.
Mayhan said the cast included kids from Madison, Hinds and Rankin County.
“Our youngest cast member is in fourth grade and our oldest cast members are senior graduates,” Mayhan said. “Some are stage and film veterans, and some are newbies. We want to give everyone a chance here and bring all levels of experience to the stage.
Performance times for Newsies Jr. are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The musical is based on the 1992 Disney film “Newsies” and the 2012 Broadway production of the same name.
The cast includes 42 students from 11 different schools in the metropolitan area. The cast, which ranges in age from 4th grade to graduating seniors, is led by Mayhan, co-manager Mandy Hackman, Bradley Davis and Brittnye Aven as musical director.
Bradley Davis, choreographer and assistant show director, said the show for the production is the dance.
“The dances are extremely athletic and require a lot of concentration to perform successfully,” Davis said. “In addition to being athletic, the vocal performances of these numbers are mesmerizing.”
Newsie’s Jr. tells the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a group of young short story writers – newsies – in Manhattan. When publishing titans raise distribution prices at the expense of newspapers, Jack rallies young workers across the city to strike against unjust conditions and fight for what’s right.
The musical features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award-winning Harvey Fierstein, and includes catchy songs such as “Carrying the Banner”, “Seize the Day” and “King of New York”. “It’s a perfect timeless message for the whole family and all audiences.
“The male lead is Maybury Smith, who plays Jack Kelly,” Mayhan said. “He’s phenomenal, along with our entire cast. I get chills every time he sings ‘Santa Fe’, his title track.
“We started rehearsals in early April, and these kids put in countless hours of hard work building the set, painting, and practicing the show,” Mayhan said. “Center Players is an all-volunteer organization, so there are no paid staff. This is a show I’ve wanted to perform for a very long time and we’re beyond thrilled to pull it off.
The show is presented under a special arrangement with Music Theater International, and all equipment is also provided by MTI.
For more information on Newsies Jr., visit www.thecenterplayers.org for ticket information and pricing. Tickets are available online or at the door of the box office for $15. The box office opens 30 minutes before each performance.
Performances are Thursday June 9 at 7:30 p.m., Friday June 10 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 11 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday June 12 at 2 p.m., Thursday June 16 at 7:30 p.m., Friday June 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday June 19 at 2 p.m.
The Madison Square Center for the Arts is located at 2103 Main Street in Madison.