The cast of “Newsies” shines on stage during their production.
The cast of “Newsies” shines on stage during their production.
Courtesy of PAO via Dan McHugh

Suffolk PAO ‘Seizes the Day’ with ‘Newsies’

Suffolk University Performing Arts Office invited audiences to “Watch What Happens” during its three performances of “Newsies” the weekend of Feb. 22.

“Newsies” tells the story of a union of New York City newsboys who organize a successful strike against unfair working conditions waged by newspaper owners, based on the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899.

For many of the cast and crew, they hope the story’s message will carry far beyond the stage, a goal they strived for through their perspective roles.

“I was hoping to convey through Jack’s character the importance of advocating for your loved ones and the people who you care about. Jack is a big believer in giving a voice to the voiceless and sticking up for the little guy. I hope the audience walked away with the mindset that they too can stick up for others and that no challenge is too impossible to change. The more vocal we are about issues we truly care about, the more real change can happen,” said Elizabeth Costa, a senior undergraduate law major who played the role of Jack Kelly, the newsboy who leads the strike effort.

From auditions to striking the set, “Newsies” was a culmination of months of rehearsals, set and costume design and everything in between. According to the cast, these months brought the cast and crew of Suffolk’s version of the Broadway show together.

“Throughout the production process, the entire cast and crew really turned into one big family. We were seeing each other every single day for hours on end and working together on something we all loved. Everyone was incredibly supportive, and the energy in the rehearsal room was always extremely positive,” said Hannah Kupson, a senior theater and creative writing student who played the role of Katherine Plumber in the show, a young journalist who writes and publishes a story on the newsies.

For Kupson, she connected with Katherine through her commonalities with the character.

“My favorite part of playing Katherine was getting to explore what life for a woman like her in this time period would have been like. I related to Katherine in a number of ways, we’re both writers, both career driven and both extremely passionate, and getting to place those characteristics in a time period where women weren’t taken seriously was extremely rewarding and eye-opening,” said Kupson.

With the highly male-dominated cast of characters of “Newsies”, many of the Suffolk cast members were challenged to fill roles unlike ones they ever had before.

“My favorite part of playing the role was getting to goof off and be this big leader ‘testosterone guy,’ as that is a role I have never really played and was fun to do. There were challenges with that as well, the main one being that I hadn’t played a role like that prior, so learning the mannerisms of essentially an alpha male was a bit of a challenge,”  said Carson Stiles, a junior media and film major who played the roles of Spot Conlon and the Mayor.

For many of the cast members, the challenges faced prompted learning and growth.

“Playing Jack has been a lifelong dream of mine I never thought would come true. He’s been a character I have always connected with ever since I first watched ‘Newsies’ … Being given this opportunity to play Jack has allowed me to grow as a person in so many ways, while also challenging me,” said Costa.

After the final curtain closed for Suffolk PAO’s production of “Newsies,” three successful nights of performances signaled the end of months of memories made.

“This has been one of the most inclusive, fun and overall best theater experiences I’ve ever had. All the cast and crew were so kind, dedicated and supportive, especially our director Sydney, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it,” said Stiles.

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