Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Newsies Jr. coming to Dartmouth Middle School
The cast of Dartmouth Middle School’s production of “Newsies Jr.” filled the seats of the school’s auditorium on Thursday, March 16. They had just finished a rehearsal under the watchful eye of Director Alex Bernardo.
“Rest, hydrate and take care of yourselves,” he told his cast, reminding them that the show was “only two weeks away.”
Only minutes before, the cast of 28 young actors, while not yet in costume, were in character as late 19th century New York City “newsies,” or newspaper hawkers.
“Newsies Jr.” is loosely based on the 1899 New York City newsboy strike. It is a 60-minute version of the 2012 broadway production “Newsies” that was based off the 1992 Disney film of the same name.
According to Bernardo, “Newsies Jr.” is especially adapted for middle school students, adding that Dartmouth Middle School is one of the first South Coast schools to put on the production.
He explained that portions of the show including some “very long dance breaks” and some spoken dialogue was removed.
“But if someone knows newsies they’ll recognize a lot of the songs,” said Bernardo, pointing to the numbers “Seize the Day,” “Carrying the Banner,” and “King of New York,” which are all included in the show.
And for eighth-grade student Brady Jackson, who plays newsboy Jack Kelly, the singing is his favorite part.
“Learning lines [is] hard, but singing is fun,” he said, explaining that he has more lines in “Newsies Jr.” than in the previous shows he was involved in.
Bernardo, who has a minor in theater and has been involved in the performing arts for most of his life, said that directing a show of middle school-age students can be different than directing older teenagers or adults who have more experience on stage.
“Both myself and [assistant director Karen Mcdaid] tend to be very specific,” said Bernardo. “Sometimes we’ll even model what [a scene] needs to look like.”
However, many of Bernardo’s actors have previous theater experience. Last year’s musical production, a musical revue called “Peace, Love and Broadway,” involved many of the “Newsies Jr.” cast.
“Very few [castmembers] have not done a show before,” said Bernardo. “So a lot of students really understand what we need to be doing.”
Seventh-grade student Bryce Clancy, who plays the newsboy “Crutchie,” said that his experience in last year’s show — along with the encouragement of his family and friends — is what made him come back to drama club.
“It’s been really fun, last year was a really great performance,” said Clancy. “I met a lot of people through drama. It was really a great experience and I’m glad to be performing again.”
This is only Clancy’s second time in a theatrical production, but he is loving it.
“Everyone is so welcoming and it’s a great community to be in,” he said. “We always just laugh and have fun.”
Performances of Newsies Jr. will be held on Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m. in the Dartmouth Middle School Auditorium, 366 Slocum Road. Tickets are $10 at the door.