Our summer musical, “Newsies,” coincides with the 120th anniversary of a real-life historic strike by thousands of newspaper delivery boys in the era of publishing giants Pulitzer and Hearst. Their plight and determination was captured in a Disney movie that went on to become a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Newsies.” Both bring to life the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged "newsies." The year is 1899, the setting is New York City, and the newsies depend on their dimes to feed and clothe themselves and their families. When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Kelly rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what's right.
In real life, the leader of the strike is thought to have been Louis "Kid Blink" Baletti. The strikers demonstrated on Brooklyn Bridge for several days, bringing traffic to a standstill, along with news distribution. The strike lasted two weeks and caused Pulitzer’s New York World to decrease its circulation from 360,000 papers per day to 125,000. Ultimately, it's said to have inspired similar strikes in cities across the U.S. that laid the foundation for child labor laws and improvements in the newsboys' quality of life.
In our production, the story is being told by a cast of 45 youth and adult performers from cities across the Four State Area, including Webb City, Joplin, Carl Junction, Carthage, Parsons, Baxter Springs, Ft. Scott, Franklin, Girard, and Pittsburg. They’ve been working about 20 hours a week since summer began to learn high-energy, highly-choreographed dance numbers, powerful vocals, build a complicated set, and create period costumes.
“Newsies” opens on July 18 at Memorial Auditorium 503 N. Pine, Pittsburg, and runs through July 21. The show is directed by Kaye Lewis. Tickets: $8, $10, and $12 at www.memorialauditorium.org, 620-231-7827, or at the box office one hour before curtain.