Thursday, July 18, 2019

Newsies Coming to Rockaway Theatre Company July 19 - and I get to play an anti-union thug

Rockaway Times

One of the most telling scenes is when a Newsie pleads with a cop for help after being attacked by goons (which I am one) and the cop hits him. There is a lot more politics in this show than I expected. Workers' rights, unionizing, strikes, goons and cops beating workers, women's rights. And rousing singing and marching that will stir any unionist. And they find a printing press and create their own alternative newspaper telling their story. Well, OK, they couldn't do it without the help of children of the ruling class, but we won't quibble - for now.


Tonight is the final dress rehearsal before opening tomorrow night for a 3 week run (Friday, Saturday and Sunday Matinees). The Newsies are mostly young men - aged 10-early 20s, with a few young ladies playing boys is astounding in its acting, singing, dancing. There are a few older folks - the meanies and I get to play a small role as one of them (I have about 8 lines).

Here is a preview by Kami-Leigh Agard, an excellent reporter for the Rockaway Times who came to rehearsal earlier this week, followed by my own column in The Wave which is published tomorrow.




Memo from the RTC:  Newsies Backstage
By Norm Scott

The past 10 days has seen some heavy lifting at the Rockaway Theatre Company with long rehearsals every day as the Newsies cast and crew gets ready for the Friday opening. Yes, Hell Week is upon us. I’ve been trying to get to know the many newcomers to the RTC in this production and will tell you about them in next week’s column. Director Gabrielle Mangano along with producer/stage manager James Dalid and assistant stage manager Casey Stabiner have led with firm hands, making sure to include some old and young vets from the RTC in supporting roles. Cliff Hesse, John Gilleece, Fred Greiiko and myself cover the old. Brian Sadowsi who has been with RTC in prominent roles for over three years, plays Pulitzer. Dana Mongelli who has been with the company for a few years and appeared in almost every recent production, plays Pulitzer's secretary Hannah, a Bowery Beauty, and a nun. Quite a combo of roles.

Of course the heart of the show, aside from the two key leads played by Sam Kelly, a newcomer from Iowa, and Melody Portnoy, making a 2nd appearance after her role in Pippin (more on them next week), are the many young men and boys from ages ten to the early 20s playing the news boys. It is  not easy to find so many young males who sing and dance but the RTC is a magnet for talent. Gabby did cast a few young ladies, including RTC super jack of all trades Adele Wendt, she of the glorious red mane, who manages to pull of a miracle: She turns herself into a young boy. Guess who Adele is and win a free mention in this column.

Frank Caiati who designed the sets, made a special appearance one evening at rehearsal to teach the cast how to do stage fighting. What an evening where we all got to throw punches at each other without hitting anything. Frank emphasized safety and turned potential chaos into choreography. Scenes that take about 20 seconds of playing time required hours of repetitive practice, but we expect nothing less from an RTC production.

Of course RTC leaders Susan Jasper and John Gilleece have been around to lend whatever support is needed. But clearly this show has been placed in the hands of the next generation and the audiences will love it – and you better get your tickets as there are already sold out performances.

July 19, 20, 26, 27/Aug 2, 3 at 8PM. Matinees July 21, 28, Aug. 4 t 2 PM. Tickets – Adults $25, Seniors/children $20. www.rockawaytheatre.org.

Norm’s other column is School Scope and he blogs daily at ednotesonline.com


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