Newsies: behind the scenes


Jeff Schroeder

The cast of Newsies put on the show of the year.

Camden Schroeder, Staff Writer

For those of you who didn’t see it, the musical here at Sam Barlow was incredible.  

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen live theatre, and what a smashing way to come back!” commented Lisa Wilkins, who was a member of the audience. 

You might wonder what goes on to build a show from the ground up and how the cast and crew feel about their production? Julia Nickolas, who had the job of being stage manager can provide a special behind-the-scenes look at how things are run. 

Being a stage manager is probably one of the most challenging jobs there is. One of the hardest parts of being backstage for the stage manager is running all aspects of lighting and cues, getting the timing of both right, and organizing the movement of all of the scaffolding set pieces. In Nickolas’s opinion, the show ended up being perfect and she would make no changes. She thought the funniest moment was during the second show when the cast and crew started to confuse the “Jacks” in the show. There was an actor with the name Jack Kohler, and a character in the musical named Jack Kelly. 

In the very back of the school auditorium, lights were being run by Mr. Schroeder, Brian Kilgo, Joey Cooksey, Madalyn Collier, Heath Jones, and Corbin Zollinger.  There were some technical difficulties, so Mr. Schroeder asked for Jack’s microphone to be fixed, meaning Jack Kohler. It turns out he wasn’t specific enough, because everyone backstage thought he meant Jack Kelly. So, they unplugged Jack Kelly’s mic. Then they couldn’t plug it back in, and he had to get back on stage! He ended up going on with no mic and had to talk really loudly right next to the people with mics, just so the audience could hear him. Everyone had a good laugh after the show, mostly at Mr. Schroeder’s expense.

When Nickolas was asked if she thought that the show ended off on a good note, she responded “Yes, it’s a great senior show. I loved making friends with more underclassmen and I’m really going to miss my theatre family.”

Peyton Hull is another key member of the Barlow theatre department. She played the parts of “Hannah”, a nun, and a “Bowery Beauty”. In Hull’s words, “I thought that the hardest, most stressful part was all of the difficult costume changes. I was running around trying to return to the stage within a small time frame, all the while changing my clothes!” 

When asked if the process was better or worse from the Addams Family, the theatre department’s musical last spring, she said “The Addams family cast had a smaller amount of individuals who were passionately devoted to the craft, while Newsies had a lot of people that we’re learning about acting for the first time. I loved the different ups and downs that we all went through together, which ultimately made for a great show.” 

Andrew Schroeder, who played the lead role of “Jack Kelly,” did a fantastic job. It wasn’t without challenges though. Apparently, during the second show, he fell ill. He was running on stage and acting his heart out, and then running backstage and vomiting in a trash can. After this, he would go right back out and sing the song “Santa Fe,” as though nothing was wrong. He belted every high note perfectly and was even able to dance and run around later in the show. He clearly represented the saying “the show must go on!” Schroeder said “The most stressful part of Newsies for me was dealing with my sickness during the performance. I was worried it would impact the quality of our show.”

Mr. Schroeder, the theatre director,  poured his heart and soul into the planning for this musical to make sure it succeeded! He did everything he could, and the outcome was spectacular and worth it in the end! Mr. Schroeder’s favorite line was “The world’s your erster!” Hunter Matheny said the fan-favorite line in perfect New York accent, before being corrected by one of the other Newsies. Apparently, “erster” is a funny way of saying “oyster”. Who knew?

One of the most stressful things in Mr. Schroeder’s opinion was when “We had a lot fewer rehearsals than we usually do when we run a fall musical. This made everything feel very tight in terms of time.” Without Mr. Schroeder’s extreme organizational skills, there’s no way the show could have been this good. You can tell that the whole cast appreciates him as a teacher and director.

Overall the show was amazing, and every role was well portrayed. The acting and singing were both near perfection, especially for high school students. In fact, a social media critique drove over two hours to see Barlow’s production. After the performance, he posted on Instagram that ours was “the only high school theatre program worth paying money to see right now.”