Disney’s Newsies, put on by Yukon Theatre for Young People (YTYP), will premiere on June 14 at the Yukon Arts Centre. The cast for the Tony-winning Broadway play consists of more than 30 youth performers, ranging from nine to 19-years-old, as well as another eight professional Yukon actors. Brian Fidler is the director, Allyn Walton is doing choreography, Scott Maynard is the musical director and Greg Murdoch is playing the lead role.
Set in turn-of-the century New York City, Newsies is the stirring story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged “newsies.” When publishers raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions, changing working conditions for children all across the state. Based on the true story, which was the basis for the 1992 motion picture, Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills, an amazing cast of young, local talent and a timeless message.
Katherine McCallum and fellow producer Angela Drainville chose this show because of its capacity to offer roles to a huge number of young performers.
“We wanted to focus on youth and this show was perfect,” said McCallum. She and Drainville started Yukon Theatre for Young People to create extracurricular theatre opportunities for youth of all ages and to give young aspiring performers the chance to work in a professional environment. “Both Angela and I have kids that are performers and are so happy that the original conversation about starting a youth theatre is now a reality.”
Fidler expressed his amazement at the amount of young, local talent in the Yukon. “We had a lot of kids come to the audition,” said Fidler. “We took them all!”
Rehearsals for the show started in April, once a week on Saturdays for four hours. In May the cast started rehearsing three times a week for a total of eight to 10 hours. “The spirit of the whole crew is excellent,” said Fidler. “I am having a lot of fun and the kids too. It’s already coming across onstage.”
Murdoch plays leading man, Jack Kelly. Murdoch has always had a passion for music, acting and the performing arts. When he was 16, he started performing professionally as a full cast member with the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue. He was a part of the MAD program at the Wood Street Centre for three years. He has also performed in professional local shows such as Dog Town and the Klondike Follies. This past year he was a part of a musical compilation show in Edmonton. In the fall he will be attending the Canadian College of Performing Arts to study musical theatre in Victoria.
“After I got the lead part I watched the movie of the musical and pretty much loved every song,” said Murdoch. “This show replicates today, because it is about the younger generation standing up to the older generation demanding that they have a say about what is going on in the world.”
Murdoch said there’s always room for more arts in the Yukon. He said this show and YTYP are such an amazing chance for kids too young for MAD or youth seeking more opportunity to perform and be a part of something professional. “Everyone is doing a really great job. This is probably the most professional youth show I’ve been a part of.”
Both McCallum and Fidler expressed their gratitude for the Yukon Arts Centre residency program, which helps promote a lot of local shows and gives local companies the time and space to rehearse and perform at the Yukon Arts Centre.
To purchase tickets, visit YukonTickets.com.