by Lauren R. '21
Photo by Nate C. '19
On a dark November night, Lakeside's campus is seemingly still with inactivity. Despite the quiet, a hum of excitement is about, and the interior of the chapel twinkles with chandelier light. Inside, a group of students are practicing the acrobatic tricks they've learned this week. Two students demonstrate an impressive move to their castmates: a jump into a basket carry and a backflip out of it. "One, two, three-" On four, one student jumps into another's arms, her arms wrapped around her partner's neck as he catches her knees and back in a basket carry. "Five, six, seven, eight." On eight, her partner flips her body back and she lands on two feet. A supportive roar erupts from their castmates.
They're rehearsing for Newsies, Lakeside's winter musical. Triumphant and bursting with showy musical numbers, Newsies tells the story of a newsboy strike, based on true events. When newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer raises the price of newspapers for the newsies, Jack (Will A. '19), along with Davey (Charlie C. '19) and Katherine (Peyton M. '19), lead a strike for the rights of children working on the streets.
Despite being written over 20 years ago and set 100 years ago, Newsies holds cultural relevance: its themes of enacting change and female empowerment led director Michael Place to choose this musical for the start of 2019. "I see Newsies as a show that empowers young people to take their futures into their own hands when the adults around them are not looking out for their best interests and their future role in society," said Place. "That has to do with poverty, that has to do with labor, and it also just has to do with representation. So, I am excited by a group of young people deciding that the current system is not working for them and is not built to serve them, so they're going to take matters into their own hands."
In addition to these themes of making change, Place sees an important story in Katherine, the up-and-coming reporter who takes an interest in the newsies' strike. As one of the few female journalists of her time, the character faces skepticism from other characters but is committed to proving herself. "She is somebody who comes from a lot of resources, who is committed to building her career without that support, and her track really feels more like the contemporary movement of female empowerment," said Place. "She is, like the young movement, not letting the men in charge dictate what her role in society will be and how she will manifest her own power, boldness, and leadership as she makes an impact on her world." As for the show itself, Place wants the audience to have fun. "I hope that they feel that the energy in the room is contagious and that they want to get up on stage," he said. "It's that vibe."
You can see Lakeside's Newsies in St. Nicholas hall on January 30th and 31st at 7:00 PM, and February 1st and 2nd at 7:00. Admission is free!