Disney's 'Newsies'

"Proud and defiant, we'll slay the giant." Disney's "Newsies" opens Friday at Ovation Theatre.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Disney's "Newsies" opens Friday at the Ovation Theatre.

The David vs. Goliath cult classic will serve as the final show in Ovation Theatre's third season, said director Terri Cline. After eight weeks of grueling rehearsal, the cast of "Newsies" is ready to be the talk of the town.

"To see all these little pieces all coming together, I just think, 'Wow, I can't believe these are all local actors,'" Cline said.

Inspired by the newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City, "Newsies" is the story of rebellious Jack Kelly (Nick Ono), a newspaper delivery boy who is living among other homeless and orphaned children. Jack dreams of escaping to Santa Fe. When Joseph Pulitzer (Alex Neal) decides to raise newspaper prices to beat the competition, it takes away what little profit the newsboys made. This causes the newsies to protest and go on strike. Caught in the middle of all this is burgeoning reporter Katherine Plumber (Tessa Ogles), who chronicles the situation.

When Disney’s “Newsies” was released in theaters in 1992, it was a box office bomb, but later gained a cult following. The stage version debuted on Broadway in 2012, and was a critical and commercial success. In 2018, the rights for the play were made available for smaller theaters around the country to perform.

The stage boasts an impressive five-level set, compensating for the smaller space and mirroring a high-rise New York skyscraper, Cline said. The actors dance through the multiple layers to give a dynamic since of movement.

In 2012, the original Broadway production won a Tony for choreography. The choreography features more masculine movement that is often absent in theater shows, Nick Ono said. The dance numbers for "Newsies" have an intensity unlike most shows. The musical numbers are between five to seven minutes long, and each minute takes hours to choreograph, hours of rehearsal and hours to refine, Cline said.

"It's 100 percent all of the time. It's full speed. Nothing is held back," Ono said. "Some people feel that every number in 'Newsies' is a finale."

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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