“Newsies” Takes Over Great Mills High School.
Fantastic Crew and Cast Stages Unforgettable Performance!
Summerstock Program Does It Again!
The headlines are in, and St. Mary’s Summerstock doesn’t fail to impress once again this summer! Before I tell you about this gem of a show, let me give you some information about the Summerstock program. St. Mary’s Summerstock is a theatre program run by St. Mary’s County Parks and Recreation. Every year, theatre lovers from all over St. Mary’s and other nearby counties gather together to direct, cast, and perform familiar musicals.
The coolest thing about this program is that all of the actors/actresses must be under 21 years of age! If you think that is amazing, you should take a look at the size of this year’s cast of “Newsies” – I counted 70 bios for the cast alone! This year, St. Mary’s Summerstock takes on the Broadway and Disney classic, “Newsies,” based on the true story of the Newsboys riot of 1899 in New York.
“…I began to wonder if maybe I hadn’t stumbled upon a Broadway production of this show – everything was just breathtaking!”
I had never been to Great Mills High School before, so I left plenty of time to arrive if I took a wrong turn. I’m glad I arrived when I did, for the opening night line for the theatre was already about 100 people deep. Yes, I said ‘line’. Apparently, the St. Mary’s Summerstock program is pretty well known. Definitely reserve those tickets ahead of time, I will add, as it makes the entry process easier on you and ensures you will have a seat when you show up (get there early as general seating rules apply!). The theatre was awesome, sporting a brick face to the stage (perfect for setting this show, I may add), and a great layout of seats.
The first act opened to the faces of Jack (portrayed brilliantly by Brad Oosterink) and Crutchie (captured perfectly by Nathaniel Morrison), just waking up from their slumber, but not quite from their dreams. As this twosome crooned their way through “Santa Fe,” I sat back in my seat with tears in my eyes. Never before has a show captured my heart as quickly as this one did, and it just got better with every set change!
To tell the story quickly, Jack and the other Newsies are faced with a dilemma when Pulitzer raises the prices he charges the Newsies per paper they sell. Do they go with the flow, or is it possible for this rag-tag bunch of street orphans to stand up against the King of the press and get fair pricing/treatment for all Newies? You’ll have to come and see the show to find out how it ends, and I highly recommend that you do! As this incredibly talented cast completed dance after dance, song after song, I began to wonder if maybe I hadn’t stumbled upon a Broadway production of this show – everything was just breathtaking!
A few of these astonishing cast and crew members deserve mention. Katherine Plumber was portrayed with expertise and incredible vocals by Meaghan Travis. Newsie members Race (flawlessly captured by Andrew Roell), Davey (portrayed cleverly by Daniel Ulrich), Les (comically portrayed by Benjamin Messer), and Albert (captured energetically by Kruz Maldonado), are just a few of the Newsies that caught my eye.
Director P. Wade Thompson certainly had his hands full with this massive cast, but his attention to detail and directing choices really took this production to the next level. Without a voice coach, he even encouraged the kids to try and capture the ‘Newsie’ accent for New York – they did it with style, by the way. The set he designed was not only functional, but surprisingly fluid for the size and style of the set – reminiscent of Broadway’s “Hamilton” in size, shape, and color, but perfect for the backdrop of this production. Each set change was choreographed into the story and music so perfectly that I forgot that they were happening.
Speaking of choreography, Richard Lepper really challenged this cast with pieces of the Broadway choreography for “Newsies.” I lost count of how many flips, splits, and tap shoes I saw throughout the show, but there certainly was a lot of high-flying fun!
The costumes, designed by Janet Goodwin, were perfectly suited to the variety of characters found on stage without inhibiting mobility, all while keeping with the 1890s style of clothing appropriate to the show. I really appreciated the fact that the Bowery Beauties gowns were flouncy and captured the showgirl look without sacrificing modesty for the young ladies portraying them.
Technically, this show certainly raised the bar. Featuring the use of fog machines, an impressive set of lights, a live orchestra staged in a separate room, the use of projection and screens in the theatre, I was simply amazed at the teamwork shown in managing all of it – kudos to Technical Director Gayle Nevis and Stage Manager Paige Bauher for their leadership and management skills.
This show featured the incredible talents of a live orchestra, directed skillfully by Sara Nelson. While the orchestra age range is more varied than the cast, the skill and poise of each player comes through in the performance. I loved listening to the spotlight moments of each musician, but the moments of blending were equally powerful. There was a moment within “Once and For All” in Act 2 that I felt goosebumps rising on my arms – the singers and musicians were just so perfectly balanced and blended!
St. Mary’s Summerstock’s production of “Newsies” is a must see show for folks of all ages this summer! I cannot praise this cast and crew enough for their talents and energy, and desire to share a quality performance with every audience. The dedication of the performers/crew came through in every note, dance step, and paper sold. Without a doubt, this show deserves a standing ovation. Perhaps the only critique I have for this production is for the folks putting it on – I wish the run of the show was longer!
Running Time: Approximately 2.5 hrs with 15 minute intermission.
Advisory: Brief adult language, kissing, and some inuendos. Best suited for ages 8 and up with parental guidance, but there were 5 year olds who were absolutely enthralled the night I went.
St. Mary’s Summerstock production of “Newsies” will be performed at Great Mills High School July 19-28th in a partnership with St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks. For more show information and tickets, please see here.