Corvallis high school students storm the stage in Newsies

The Newsies go on strike in Corvallis School District Theaters production of Newsies during their preview show. Contributed by CSD Theatres.
The Newsies go on strike in Corvallis School District Theaters’ production of Newsies during their preview show. Contributed by CSD Theatres.

The overture streams through the audience, and with the first notes, onlookers are transported to nineteenth-century New York. 

Corvallis high school theater students will flood the stage of the Corvallis High School Performing Arts Center in a production of Newsies, the Broadway musical, during the month of March. 

Newsies was originally a historical musical drama film, produced in 1992 by Walt Disney Pictures. Although it originally received poor reviews, it later increased in popularity on home video. In 2011, the show was adapted for the stage by Disney Theatrical Productions.

The Broadway adaptation of Newsies ran from March 2012 to August 2014, and had over 1,000 performances before it left the Nederlander Theater. After, the show proceeded on a national tour until 2016, and has since won two Tony awards. 

Corvallis School District Theaters has been running large-scale musicals for at least 15 years which have become a pillar in the community, said Laura Braning, the Theater Program Director for Corvallis High School. 

Many look forward to each season of new shows and attend regularly, according to CSD’s website. “Excellent acoustics, orchestra pit, comfortable seats. This is a great fine music venue. Grateful to the community of Corvallis for having this resource available for all of us”, said Linda Sebring, an online user, on March 7, 2023. 

Braning has been the Theater Program Director for Corvallis High School for 15 years, and previously worked as a professional actress and director. She holds a master’s in fine arts in acting.

Braning said she chose to direct Newsies because her team “started noticing that we had a lot more boys who could sing and dance, and Newsies is a male-heavy show.” 

She added that CSD had planned to put on the show in 2021 but had to set it aside due to the pandemic.

This coming-of-age production tells the story of Jack and his adventures through New York as a newsboy, a common job held by poor children and teenagers in this period. Jack and his friends work for the New York World, an established newspaper and industry giant. Throughout Acts 1 and 2, the newsies strive for improved working conditions by standing up to the show’s antagonist, Joseph Pulitzer, the politician and newspaper tycoon. 

They are met with resistance and conflict throughout the musical, and learn they must grow stronger in their friendships to usurp Pulitzer. The newsies use this bond to overthrow an out-of-touch power figure and address the social inequity they live in.

“You’ll see in society right now young people really taking a stand for advocacy,” Braning said. “They’re the people who are going to be our future. This play shows that as its central theme: young people who are willing to go against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, because it’s what’s right.” 

Beyond embodying rousing themes of the show, Braning focuses on theater education, and says with their shows, they seek to “teach industry standards” that prepare the students for professional careers. 

Branings’ and the program’s motto is “We don’t do high school theater, we do professional caliber theater with high school students. We hope they learn the good and the bad of an industry that is worldwide.” 

Newsies is a show that is friendly to all ages and personalities, and CSD is excited to tell the story in their own way. With one weekend of shows under their belt, Braning says the cast is ready for more shows to come. 

Performances will take place at the Corvallis Performing Arts Center on Fridays at 7 p.m., on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. during the first two weekends of March.

To purchase tickets to see CSD’s show Newsies or future performances, visit their website.

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    Robert TaylorMar 3, 2024 at 12:54 am

    Makes me want to watch! Well written article. Informative.