‘Newsies’ strikes the stage at Maple Grove High School


Ruthie Light, Editor

On March 26, 27, and 28, Maple Grove High School displayed their amazing theater department with their rendition of “Newsies.”

“Newsies” is notoriously known for being a difficult musical, considering its choreography that includes an array of acrobatic tricks, the intricate set design, and the cast that mainly consists of males. It was extremely impressive to see that Maple Grove High School excelled in all three of those aspects. 

In the musical, homeless newsboy Jack Kelly (Jake Wozniak), befriends a pair of brothers who join him and the other paperboys in their New York City trade. However, when famous newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer (Jonah Foley) sets new standards that make it harder for the young, poor newspaper salesmen to earn money. The boys stand up to the disrespect by going on strike. Their noble strike catches the attention of a young reporter, Katherine “Plumber” (Allison Bohall), who shares their gripping story and makes headlines throughout the city, in hopes to achieve justice for the hardworking boys. “Newsies” shares the importance of standing up for what is right and to defend your liberty. As it is based on the newsboys’ strike of 1899, the musical also teaches young individuals about the history of America and how influential big business was, and continues to be. 

To begin, when deciding to put on a musical of any kind, singing voice is a huge factor in the auditioning room. Someone’s voice can drastically sway the character’s persona, so casting the person with the singing voice that matches each role is extremely important. Needless to say, whoever was in charge of casting this show did absolutely phenomenally. There were talented singers scattered all throughout the cast, from the leads to the ensemble. There was not one off-key or pitchy voice in the show. In “Newsies” there is a character by the name of Medda Larkin, played by Cambria Fiorella. Medda Larkin is a strong-voiced, saloon singer who offers her theater as a “safe-haven” for the paperboys. Fiorella’s voice particularly stood out during Larkin’s song “That’s Rich,” where she is simultaneously enthusiastic and sarcastic, while also flawlessly singing her song. Fiorella is loud and proud and it was obvious that she took pride in her performance. 

Next, the choreography in Maple Grove’s “Newsies” was definitely the most impressive asset of the show. Performing a show that is infamous for its acrobatic tricks and impressive dancing can be stressful and intimidating, considering that most people aren’t particularly skilled in those fields. However, Maple Grove’s execution of this was insane. It was evident that the cast knew what they were doing and intensively trained to perform such acts. Across Maple Grove’s stage there were students doing all sorts of tricks, such as: back-flips, back walkovers, ariels, and much more. In addition, there was an ensemble member, who presumably is a dancer, doing flawless fouettes. Of all the performances, though, there was one scene that really stood apart from the others in regards to choreography: “King of New York.” It is known that dancing professionally takes skill and a lot of training. In the “King of New York” scene, there are multiple tap dance solos, as well as group tap numbers. Like any other type of dance, it is no secret that tap dancing is not particularly easy to learn, but the cast of Maple Grove’s “Newsies” hit the ball out of the park with their moves. It definitely would not be surprising if the school had a professional choreographer for their musicals. 

When it comes to school musicals, or any musicals at that, set design is often goes overlooked and unappreciated, even though it is extremely crucial to the plot of any show. The set of “Newsies” is usually huge architectural structures that are meant to represent the ‘bones’ of big-city buildings. Maple Grove high school not only built these structures, but also mobilized them with wheels to conduct scene changes, and to create more intimacy between the cast and the audience. Along with the structures, Maple Grove also had large screens that could both drop down and rise up to project different images for the audience to further comprehend the events. This occurs in many different scenes such as: “Watch What Happens, takes place now,” “Once And For All,” etc. In the scene, “Watch What Happens, takes place now”, reporter Katherine Plumber is in the process of writing her article about the paperboys’ strike. While she sits at her typewriter, a video of what she is writing, as she writes it, is projected on the big screen. This gives the reader more insight into the creative writing process of a reporter. Likewise, in the scene, “Once And For All,” the paperboys are expressing the change that is being made as a result of Plumber’s article, where their truth is finally being spoken and change is finally occurring. While they sing and proudly hold up their newspapers, a giant projection of the newspaper is broadcasted on to three different screens in front of them, further expressing just how impactful and ‘big’ the article was for the character’s lives.

In conclusion, Maple Grove’s rendition of the Broadway musical, “Newsies,” was extremely remarkable and overall enjoyable. The only critiques I have concerning this production were both minor sound flaws. At times, the cast’s microphones would unexpectedly lower in volume, making it difficult to hear what was being said. As well as that, the lead performer, Jake Wozniak (Jack Kelly) seemed to have a difficult time enunciating. That often happens with individuals with deeper voices, which he had. The lack of enunciation did leave a few lingering questions regarding what he was saying. In the grand scheme of things, though, Wozniak offered a convincing and wonderful performance of his character, Jack Kelly, with his acting and singing talents.

All in all, I would rate this production a 4.5/5 stars. I would definitely recommend going to see a Maple Grove show when possible!