Published July 1, 2019 | By Adrienne Proctor
The Summer at the Civic rolls on! Fresh off their magical series opener Singin’ In the Rain, The Lyric is set to make headlines again, this time with Disney’s beloved musical Newsies. The stage version of Newsies is based on the movie, which starred a young Christian Bale, and the real-life newsboys strike in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Newsies follows a group of newsboys, that is, the child workers who sold papers for pennies on street corners, as they take on the giants of the publishing world. Expect twists and turns, fantastical, sky-high dance numbers and plenty of newspapers flying around. Newsies comprises all the best that Disney musicals have to offer. It teaches you a bit about the world; how it used to be, how it could be, and how it should be. And it entertains you all the while.
Jimmy Mavrikes returns to Lyric Theatre after this spring’s Lyric Plaza production of Girlfriend. Mavrikes plays newsboy Davey, and he answered a Q&A for me below:
AP: Tell us about playing Davey! What are you excited for about this role?
Mavrikes: I am thrilled to be playing Davey. It has been a dream role for quite some time! I saw the show on Broadway right after I graduated college, and I said, “I want to do that!” And since Davey is the brains of the operation, he doesn’t need to do the tricks and flips the rest of the cast are doing. So, it was perfect for me. I’m just glad someone cast me before I got too old.
AP: The story of Newsies actually speaks volumes about issues of class and opportunity in the U.S. There’s also an important theme of immigration and who belongs here. What do you think is so important about the message told in Newsies?
Mavrikes: Newsies is about big business being greedy at the expense of the little man; something that America is still struggling with today. And you have to assume these newsboys are immigrants or the sons of immigrants trying to make a living here in the USA. Joseph Pulitzer really puts them in a terrible position by raising the prices. He really treats them as a consumer, rather than an employee. What many people don’t know is that this story is based on truth. Of course, it is Disney-fied, with amazing dance numbers and amazing vocals, but this strike really happened. Originally, I think Mr. Pulitzer raised the prices to gain money for the Spanish-American War, but never put them back down once the war was over.
I also think the writing team of this show really did a great job making you root for these kids and feel for their struggle. One of my favorite lines is “I can eat two days on a dime.” It absolutely makes you realize just how high the stakes were for something that seems so small today.
AP: The songs, the dance numbers, the costumes! Everything about Newsies is iconic and classic Disney. What’s the best part about being a part of this production?
Mavrikes: WATCHING THESE AMAZING PERFORMERS DANCE. Every day I leave rehearsal, and I just think about how lucky I am to be in the same room with these talented people, let alone in the same show. I mean, literally some of them are doing like 6 turns right into an illusion, and then maybe do a back flip. It’s BONKERS. So far I’ve done like 2 counts of 8 of marching, and I’m sore all over! I don’t know how they do it. I cannot wait for Oklahoma to see it. What the heck, let’s take it on tour, I want The World to see it! (Get it? Lol!).
“And The World will know!!!”
Newsies also stars Sean Watkinson as Head Newsboy Jack Kelley, Mattie Joyner as Katherine Plumber, W. Jerome Stevenson as Joseph Pulitzer, M. Denise Lee as Medda Larken, and Sam Brinkley as Crutchie.
The high-flying choreography is by Amy Reynolds Reed, musical direction by Jan McDaniel, set design by Kimberly Powers and stage management by Laurena Sherrill. Jeffrey Meek’s iconic costume design will bring to life the beautiful costumes. The always creative and colorful Helena Kuukka serves in lighting design, and Lyric’s Associate Artistic Director Ashley Wells serves as production director. Newsies was written by Harvey Fierstein and features lyrics by Jack Feldman and music by Alan Menken.