Newsboy leader Jake Kelly (Josh Richardson) is surounded by his fellow newsies, as they begin to plot their strike in protest of rising newspaper costs. Steve Kidd/Western News

Theatre group brings Newsies to Penticton

Soundstage produces its first Disney musical

Months of rehearsing are coming to an end, as Soundstage Productions’ latest musical, Newsies, prepares to hit the stage.

The musical, adapted from the 1992 movie of the same name, opens Jan. 23 in the Lakeside Resort’s East Ballroom, for a total of five performances, including a matinee on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Director Lynne Leydier says this is the first time she has brought a Disney musical to Penticton.

“Disney’s Newsies was a movie in the 1990s with a young Christian Bale,” said Leydier.

“I just love the show. When I saw the show I thought, ‘audiences are going to love this.”

Leydier said Soundstage’s history stretches back some 20 years, starting with review shows.

“It’s been a long time, starting as review shows,” said Leydier. “Our first really big show is probably West Side Story, which was in 2012.”

Soundstage has also tried their hand at many major productions: Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd and more, including last year’s show, Secret Garden.

Related: Soundstage Productions brings The Secret Garden to Penticton

“I like to try different types of shows, bring the audience different types of things. I just want them to trust they’re going to get a good product,” said Laydier. “You might like some better than others but still, you’re going to get an experience … going to the theatre and seeing shows you would probably never see unless you went to New York.

Related: Sweeney Todd tops on director’s list

“We’re trying to bring back that level of theatre here.”

Newsies tells the story of the real-life newsboys’ strike of 1899 in New York City, with a side plot following the budding relationship between Jake Kelly (Josh Richardson) and reporter Katherine Plumber (Tianna Ferlizza). The Soundstage production demands a lot of the actors: singing and energetic dancing, fight scenes and helping adjust the flexible stage set up, which incorporates scaffolding.

“It’s like cardio. It’s a lot of work. It’s very active and that will come out and the audience will appreciate that,” said Nathan Heiberg, who plays the part of Davey in the production.

“It takes a lot of rehearsal to build the stamina,” said Ashley Surowski, who plays the part of Medda Larkin. She added that for rehearsals of the Broadway production, actors are said to have practiced their songs while on a treadmill.

Surowski said it’s a privilege to be taking on a role in the production, which played for 1,004 performances from 2012 to 2014 on Broadway before heading out on tour. “It’s also a bit intimidating,” said Heiberg.

“They do so well on Broadway and if we can match even half of that in our own way.”

Finding the right cast for an active production like Newsies, Leydier said, is a challenge, but that’s nothing unusual.

“I think it’s a challenge every year, every show is so unique. That’s kind of the beauty of what I do because I love theatre. Every show is a new day, and you start from scratch, and they all have their own unique challenges.

“There is choreography in front of the stage and there is choreography behind the stage. Some people have a lot of costume changes … we’ve got everything. They get quite an experience,” said Leydier, adding that applies for the lighting, sound and stage crews too. “Everybody gets pushed. And I think that’s why from year to year they stick with it. It’s not like ‘same old, same old.’ Everybody gets, in their areas, challenged and I think people like that. I think people want to keep learning.”

The show is choreographed by Eve Noonan, with costumes by Kerry Younie.

Related: Over 20 years of Soundstage costumes

Newsies has evening shows from 7 to 9 p.m. from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26, and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 26. Tickets are $45 and are available at the Lakeside Resort’s front desk.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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