‘Newsies’ to take CCCC stage

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘Newsies’ to take CCCC stageWith the upcoming opening of “Newsies: The Broadway Musical,” taking the Cerro Coso Community College Lecture Center stage on Thursday, Sept. 26, the college is continuing its partnership with the Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society.

For 10 years RMES has been staging productions to offer theatrical opportunities while raising money for local performing arts programs. This year’s production features a high-energy retelling — through song, dance and characterization — of the New York newsboys’ strike of 1899.

While RMES is a fairly new organization in the local performing arts landscape, the return of the large-scale musical to the college lecture center heralds a nostalgic return to an institution that once played a critical role in cultivating young talent.

Years ago Cerro Coso offered not only multiple student productions each year through its drama program, but also an annual summer production that gave hundreds of young people early exposure to the performing arts.

Although those programs were reduced or eliminated over the years, and the lecture center was even closed during Cerro Coso’s latest modernization project, CCCC and RMES hosted the first production in many years earlier in 2019 with the Rising Stars production of “Alice in Wonderland Jr.”

CCCC Dean of Instruction Chad Houck said that “Alice in Wonderland Jr.’ sold out all six shows, bringing more than 1,000 people to the college that might not otherwise have visited and giving 100 kids experience on the stage.

“During the performances, it certainly felt like Cerro Coso was the ‘community’s college.’”

Having a dramatic production in the lecture center has many benefits and costs, he said. “When RMES and CCCC started evaluating the factors, the benefits clearly outweighed the costs. “There is so much potential for Cerro Coso to play a role in many aspects of the IWV. It seems sometimes that the drive up the hill is a barrier, but the LC and our library are a couple of the very few venues for performing and visual arts in Ridgecrest,” said Houck.

“So this partnership is powerfully positive for both the performing and visual arts in our community, and for Cerro Coso as we strive to be the community’s college.”

“We are really excited to have Cerro Coso available to us, and delighted with the attitude their staff has taken in developing a collaborative program,” said “Newsies” director Bill Farris.

“There are a few challenges we’ve been dealing with — it’s a small audience, so we are offering a greater number of performances to offset that. I think there is also the mentality that comes with living in a small town that we have to drive ‘all the way up to the college.’

“It’s true, that Cerro Coso is farther from the center of town, but I hope to create an experience for our community that helps us realize the importance of having the college as part of our community. It’s a central part of our identity, not a remote facet.”

“Newsies” opens at 7 p.m., on Sept. 26 and continues performances Sept. 28, Oct. 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.

Tickets are available for $15 general admission, or a reduced cost of $12, at Red Rock Books.

Pictured: Keith Bennett, Steven Farris, Chris Anderson and Philip Petersen lead the ensemble in a number from “Newsies.” — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2019-09-20