‘Newsies” on stage at Curtain Call’s Kweskin Theatre in Stamford
Years ago there were young boys who hawked newspapers on street corners. “Read all about it!” they’d shout, holding up the front page for all to see. They also dodged trolleys and horse-drawn wagons to get the job done.
The boys weren’t always treated well, particularly in New York City in 1899. They went on strike that year, fighting to change how they were compensated by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers.
“Newsies,” the Disney musical inspired by their actions and what followed, will be on stage at Curtain Call’s Kweskin Theatre in Stamford, directed by Gail Yudain. Performances run Friday, Feb. 2, through Saturday, Feb. 24.
“I read the script and knew that it was something I had to do,” Yudain said. “My aim is to present this show as a blend of the spirited, uplifting music audiences expect, along with some touches of grittier realism.”
“Newsies” is based on the 1992 film of the same name. The musical premiered in 2011 and features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein.
“It’s the story of Jack Kelly (Chris Balestrieri), a rebellious newsboy and street urchin making his living by selling papers,” Yudain said in an email interview. “When Joseph Pulitzer (Stephen Dirocco), head of the New York World, hikes the prices of the papers Jack sells, his livelihood is threatened, so Jack organizes a newsboy strike.”
Though the strike occurred more than a century ago, the tale still resonates. “It’s a story about the underdog who stands up to injustice and wins,” Yudain said. “In this case, it’s about youth fighting for equal rights in the workplace.”
Yudain said it’s no secret people love to root for an underdog. “And who’s more of an underdog than a ragtag kid shouting, ‘Extra! Extra!’ as he sells his papers on the dirty streets of New York City?”
Fifty actors and dancers, including teens and young adults, perform in this compelling show suited for families. Though based on the real-life strike — in which newsboys Kid Blink and David Simons led a band of orphans and runaways on a two-week action — “Newsies” includes some fictional elements, according to Lou Ursone, Curtain Call’s executive director.
“Among the many fictional elements of the show is the character of Katherine Plumber, a young reporter who serves as a love interest for Jack,” Ursone said in a news release. “As a woman reporter during a time when the industry was dominated by men, Plumber is also standing up for herself and fighting for a cause. A great role model for young women, even today.”
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The Kweskin Theatre, 1349 Newfield Ave., Stamford. Friday, Feb. 2, to Saturday, Feb. 24. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m. $35, $25 seniors, $17.50 kids (up to age 21). Thursday all seats $25. 203-461-6358, www.curtaincallinc.com.