For the third time and the third state in less than a year, veteran director Jay Cranford is making news.
Cranford is staging the Q-C area premiere of “Newsies: The Musical,” opening Friday at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse.
Based on the 1992 musical Disney film, which was inspired by the real-life Newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City. It made its Broadway debut in 2012, where it played for more than 1,000 performances before touring.
Cranford first led a professional production in Omaha, Neb., last May, and then in Kansas City in July, where it ran for a month starring his Circa leads.
Lindquist, 22, leads as Jack Kelly, in his Circa '21 debut, reprising one of his favorite roles. He earned his bachelor's degree in music theater Kansas State, where Cranford is a theater professor.
“Jack is one of the hardest musical-theater roles because it's so high,” Cranford said. “Any time you have a musical based on a movie, it's difficult for the lead because in the movie they cut and paste it. For this, he's in every scene; he never stops talking, and all the songs are high tenor songs. It's difficult to find men that can sustain that, and Noah does a fantastic job.”
Based on Disney's live-action musical that starred a teenage Christian Bale, “Newsies” is set in 1899 New York, where teen Jack Kelly and his ragtag team of newsboys make a meager living selling newspapers on the streets. But when the prices are hiked and the newsies are hung out to dry, there's nothing left to do but, as the lyrics state, “open the gates and seize the day!”
You have free articles remaining.
Led by the charismatic Jack and the independent newspaper reporter Katherine Plumber, the Newsies form a union and organize a strike against the greedy publisher of the New York World. Can a group of idealistic newsboys win against a foe as powerful as acclaimed publisher Joseph Pulitzer?
“My favorite part of the show is being part of a story that's so contemporary, even though it happened more than 100 years ago,” Lindquist said at Circa. “Being part of something so powerful and uplifting.”
Lindquist has done two summers of professional theater, first in Kearney, Neb., where he was Scarecrow in “Wizard of Oz,” and Will Parker in “Oklahoma!” at age 20. Last fall, he played Curly in “Oklahoma” at K-State, opposite his Circa partner, Kelly Urschel, who was Laurey.
“It helped me immensely to have these two leads because they have four or five scenes together,” Cranford said of “Newsies.” They just started rehearsing here Jan. 3, compared to four weeks of rehearsal for Kansas City's production.
Since Jack is a demanding role, “The voice training I have has helped me keep my stamina, and be able to reach all those high notes after running around and doing a dance number right before it,” Lindquist said. “Then you have to find the moments – when is it effective to really, really sing, and when is it most effective to not really sing, to find that balance.”