‘Newsies’ to showcase local talent

‘Newsies’ to showcase local talentBy REBECCA NEIPP, News Review Staff Writer

The cast list went up Monday for “Newsies: The Broadway Musical” — which will feature local talent raising money for performing arts programs in the 10-year-anniversary production of Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society.

The RMES board was looking for a grand way to mark the milestone.

“There was an extreme interest in ‘Les Miserables’ at first, until we realized it’s not available for community productions,” said Bill Farris, a veteran of some 30 community theater productions who will serve as director of the upcoming RMES production.

“The mention of ‘Newsies’ developed a spark, and it grew from there.”

Farris said that the 1990s Disney movie “Newsies,” on which the production is based, was a fixture in his household. “My kids were inspired and delighted with the story and the music, and I always thought it really should be a stage play.”

So when that finally happened, he took an interest.

The high-energy story recounts the real-life newsboys’ strike of 1899, which saw a young group of patriots prevail in a political battle with the powerful publishers of the day.

“I was amazed and excited both by the number of people who participated and by the caliber of talent on display,” said Farris. Because of the sheer volume of talent witnessed by the production team, they looked for every opportunity to expand the cast by finding positions to accommodate additional performers.

The original script called for a cast of 48, said Farris, and they were able to cast more than 70.

Familiar RMES favorites on the local stage include Steven Farris as Jack Kelly, Phillip Petersen as Davey, Christopher Anderson as Les, Bekah Coursey as Katherine Plumber, Kevin Anderson Sr. as Joseph Pulitzer, Melanie Anderson as Medda Larkin and Ben Bockhahn as Mr. Wiesel.

“There were also a number of individuals who we have not seen before, or have not seen in quite a while, who gave incredibly strong auditions,” said Farris.

Among these fresh faces are Heather Patterson, who will portray Hannah, Keith Bennett as Crutchie, Adam McGee as Seitz and Adam Bingham as Bunsen.

Supporting roles will be performed by Natalie Bravo, Gavyn Dickey, Jeremiah Lillion, John Cosner, Santino Guzman, Alex Vargas, Jordan Covert, Brian Cosner, Timothy Neipp Sr., Dr. Larry Cosner Jr., Danny Jensen, Julia Rindt, Jason Ertl, Lauren Rindt, Ethan Menzel, Geoffery Brown, Daniel Cosner, Peter Neipp, Mallory Cosner and Timmy Neipp II.

The ensemble cast includes Larry Cosner IV, Deanna Belt, Citlali Tellez, Kathryn Cosner, Emily Ommen, Kelly Cosner, Nina Neipp, Becky Mills, Sophia Montenegro, Jade McClellan, Beth Sparks, Lacy Roberts, Amy Ertl, Megan Anderson, Jayna McClellan, Kristi York, Holly Cosner, Kristen Jensen, Emily Workman, Natalie Grubs, Kevin Anderson II, Kenny Anderson and Gabriel Neipp.

The Children’s Crusade chorus includes Whitney Wannacott, Susanna Meech, Everett Dickey, Lindsay Mower, Erynn Cosner, Madalyn Cosner, Kaelyn Bennett, Genevieve Neipp, Nathan Neipp, Rebekah Dicky, Lelah Bird, Emily Wetzel, Rachal Wetzel, Milo Patterson, Ember Patterson, Jacob Morrison, Lorna Havig, Evie Hoff, Claire Anderson, Eleanor Petersen and Rachel Kubin.

The linchpins of production have already been assigned, but Farris added that there is always a need for additional support. “If there are people with offstage talent looking to get involved, I would truly encourage them to contact us,” said Farris.

“It is apparent that this particular group of folks have a common sense of respect for one another. This is one of the first things we observed during auditions. Bear in mind that trying out for a show is an inherently competitive experience, but these folks were all rooting for and supporting one another in a way that I haven’t seen at that point in the process.”

Farris noted that RMES grew out of a similarly collaborative spirit — a group of alumni from local performing arts programs banding together in 2009 to find a way to keep that element of education alive in local schools.

“So that groundwork has been laid by previous RMES productions. When you work with this group, you take care of each other. There is a love and respect that creatives a very positive atmosphere. Knowing that to be the case, I encourage anyone interested in being a part of that environment to come participate with us.”

For more information, e-mail jakegabrillo@yahoo.com.

Pictured: Auditioners learn choreography during "Newsies" tryouts — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2019-06-28