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Skylight Music Theatre Extends Holiday Production of Broadway Blockbuster Disney’s NEWSIES Due to Overwhelming Demand

Full Cast of 30 Announced including 16 Local Young Performers

New Show Dates November 15 – December 29, 2019

Milwaukee, Wis. (October 15, 2019) — Skylight Music Theatre today announced that due to overwhelming demand, an additional week of performances has been added to Skylight’s holiday show, Disney’s Newsies. This triumphant Broadway blockbuster opens Friday, November 15 and runs through Sunday, December 29, 2019 with special early bird and family-friendly performance times, as well as a sensory-friendly performance. This feel-good, family-favorite musical will be presented in the beautiful Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

Skylight Artistic Director Michael Unger also announced the names of 16 area students who will join the professional adult cast to perform in Newsies. “There cannot be a better time to present this musical than now. We are, again, at a point in our history when the youth of our country are succeeding as the engines of change on issues that affect them directly. I firmly believe we are all better for the efforts of these brave teenagers across America who, like the newsies of 120 years ago, are teaching us adults a thing or two,” said Unger. “To have these talented, local high school and middle school performers in Newsies brings a vital exuberance and authenticity to this story and our stage.

Newsies features a cast of 30 and a live orchestra performing in Skylight’s 350-seat jewel box Cabot Theatre. Special family-friendly performance times have been added at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 26 and Saturday Dec. 28. A sensory-friendly performance will take place on Wednesday, November 27 at 6 p.m. See full performance calendar below.

An Inspirational Story of ‘Kid Power’

Set in turn-of-the century New York City, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged newsies who dream of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to fight for what’s right and seize the day.

“This story is set at the turn-of-the-century, but it doesn’t feel far away,” said Molly Rhode, who directs the production. “The way these young people stand up and say, ‘listen to me!’ is happening right now, all across the globe. It is not a nostalgia piece. Its relevance and inspirational power are pertinent today. Newsies is not only exhilarating and triumphant Broadway musical entertainment, it shares a message of protest and persistence.” Rhode directed Skylight’s record-breaking productions of Annie (2017), Les Misérables (2013), and The Sound of Music (2012).

Newsies is inspired by the real-life “Newsboy Strike of 1899,” when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsboys on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst, and other powerful newspaper publishers. Newsies addresses age-old themes of social injustice, exploitative labor practices, and David-versus-Goliath struggles as the young learn to harness their power against corruption.

16 Young Performers from Area Schools Join Cast

Skylight showcased local young performers playing characters their own ages in Hairspray (2018) and Annie (2017). Newsies will continue that tradition with 16 young performers portraying the newsies. They include Abram Nelson (Whitefish Bay Middle School) and Edward Owczarski (St. Thomas Aquinas Academy), who will rotate in the role of Les, and the newsies ensemble: Joseph Davila (Hamilton High School), Francis Faye (Marquette University High School), Eloise Field (Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance), Kamani Graham (Pius XI), Nathan Kabara (Whitefish Bay High School), Keleous Lange (Waukesha South High School), Max Larson (Maryland Avenue Montessori), Michael Loomans (Slinger Middle School), Lily Miller (eAchieve Academy), Matthew Peterson (Whitnall High School), Alice Rivera (Woodlands School), Tikvah Schlissel (homeschooled), Paisley Schroeder (Montessori School of Waukesha), Nolan Van Haren (Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance).

Marco Tzunux will make his Skylight Music Theatre debut in the role of Jack Kelly. Tzunux has appeared regularly on Chicago stages, including Porchlight Music Theater, Drury Lane and Paramount Theatre. Among the other principal roles will be Rachael Zientek as Katherine Plumber. Zientek last appeared at Skylight Music Theatre as Hope in Urinetown, the Musical (2018).

Also returning to Skylight is Lee Palmer playing Pulitzer, who was previously seen at Skylight in Once on This Island (2015). Making their Skylight debuts are Jordan Arrasmith (Crutchie), Nicholas Parrott (Davey) and Natalie Harris (Medda Larkin). Also making their Skylight debuts are Abram Nelson and Edward Owczarski, who will rotate in the role of Les.

Music Director for the show is Christie Chiles Twillie, returning to Skylight after music directing Five Guys Named Moe (2019), which garnered her the Footlights 2019 Award for Best Musical Direction. Rhode is also collaborating with choreographer David Roman, who teaches for the Milwaukee Ballet and was recently seen in Pippin (2018) and In the Heights (2014) at Skylight.

"Newsies" Has Become a Phenomenon

Based on the 1992 Disney motion picture with a screenplay by Bob Tzudiker & Noni White, Newsies has grown into a cult phenomenon. It became a 2012 Broadway hit with a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots).

Originally produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions in 2012, this production marks the first time for Skylight. Newsies features memorable songs like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.” Newsies has non-stop thrills and a timeless message, perfect for the whole family.

The New York Times said Newsies was “A stirring crowd pleaser. Terrific songs – buoyant melodies by Alan Menken and rousing lyrics by Jack Feldman – and a sweet, funny, emotionally satisfying book by Harvey Fierstein. A musical worth singing about! Even for the cynics among us, Newsies has a stirring, old-school sincerity that’s hard to resist.” 

The Daily News called it “An exhilarating jolt of energy” and Variety described it as “Exuberant! It’s a vigorous David-and-Goliath tale rendered with old-school skill.” Entertainment Weekly said “Stop the presses! Newsies is an irresistible, high energy winner!” The show is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Disney’s Newsies

The Broadway Musical

November 15 – December 29, 2019

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman, Book by Harvey Fierstein

Directed by Molly Rhode

Based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. Originally produced on Broadway by Disney Theatrical Productions

First time at Skylight

Recommended for ages 8 and up

The Newsies creative team:

Director.............................................................................................................. Molly Rhode

Music Director........................................................................................ Christie Chiles Twillie

Choreographer............................................................................. Molly Rhode / David Roman

Costume Designer......................................................................................... Jason Orlenko**

Lighting Designer................................................................................ Joseph Arthur Franjoine

Sound Designer..................................................................................................... Hankyu Lee

Production Stage Manager........................................................................... Daniel J. Hanson*

**The Costume designer is represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829.

*Appearing through an agreement between Skylight Music Theatre and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The Newsies cast:

Jack Kelly.......................................................................................................... Marco Tzunux

Katherine Plumber.......................................................................................... Rachael Zientek

Crutchie........................................................................................................ Jordan Arrasmith

Davey............................................................................................................ Nicholas Parrott

Les....................................................................................... Abram Nelson/Edward Owczarski

Joseph Pulitzer..................................................................................................... Lee Palmer*

Medda Larkin..................................................................................................... Natalie Harris

Wiesel/Mayor........................................................................................... Kevin James Sievert

Oscar Delancey/Stage Manager......................................................................... Shawn Holmes

Morris Delancey/Teddy Roosevelt.................................................................... Christopher Elst

Snyder/Jacobi/Nunzio....................................................................................... Chase Stoeger

Race/Bunsen/Darcy...................................................................................... Austin Ryan Hunt

Finch/Sietz/Bill............................................................................................... Jonathan Turner

Hannah/Bowery Beauty/Newsie................................................................... Stephanie Staszak

Spot Conlan/Bowery Beauty/Newsie................................................................ Jamie Mercado

                *Denotes member of Actors' Equity Association

Newsies Ensemble

Joseph Davila, Francis Faye, Eloise Field, Kamani Graham, Nathan Kabara, Keleous Lange, Max LarsonMichael Loomans, Lily Miller, Matthew Peterson, Alice Rivera, Tikvah Schlissel, Paisley Schroeder, Nolan Van Haren

BIOGRAPHIES

Molly Rhode (Director/Co-Choreographer) is Associate Artistic Director at Northern Sky Theater in Door County, Wis. where she is in charge of new play development and has participated in 18 world premieres since 2007.  She received her degree in Playwriting and Directing from Southern Methodist University but grew up in Wisconsin. She is a product of Milwaukee High School of the Arts and First Stage Theater Academy. Rhode is proud to call Skylight Music Theatre one of her artistic homes where she’s directed The Sound of Music, Les Misérables, and Annie. She also performed in many productions in the Cabot Theatre, favorites including Ulla in The Producers and Sally Bowles in Cabaret.  She directs and acts all across the state and is a huge cheerleader of the Wisconsin theater community.

Christie Chiles Twillie (Music Director) made her Skylight debut as music director for Five Guys Named Moe (2019), winning her the 2019 Footlights Award for Best Musical Direction. Since moving to Chicago, she has piano conducted over 30 productions. Recent projects: piano conductor for the Chicago Premiere of Minnie’s Boys (Porchlight), Music Director for the U.S. premiere of Hopelessly Devoted, (Piven), and Music Director for an all female workshop of The Color Purple (Definition Theatre) with the show’s original Broadway Director Gary Griffin. In 2017, she earned Best Music Direction nominations for Big Fish: The Musical and her original score for Yellowman.

David Roman (Co-Choreographer) At Skylight, David has been seen in Pippin (2018) and In The Heights (2014). He has spent the last 18 years sharing his time as a performer for Royal Caribbean International and training the next generation at various locations including the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Lake Shore Dance and the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy.

PRINCIPALS

Marco Tzunux (Jack Kelly) is making his Skylight debut. Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he is an alum of the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Regional credits include Tulsa in Gypsy at Porchlight Music Theater, Wickersham Brother in Seussical at Drury Lane, and TRU at Greenhouse Theater, Altar Boyz at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theater, HAIR at Mercury Theater Chicago, Head Over Heels at Kokandy Productions, The Producers at Paramount Theatre, and on TV’s Chicago Fire.                                                                                   

Rachael Zientek (Katherine Plumber) returns to Skylight after playing Hope in Urinetown, The Musical (2018) and being awarded Skylight’s 2018 Lee Dougherty Ross Debut Artist Award. She was recently seen as Althea in Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven at Renaissance Theaterworks and as Medium Alison in Fun Home at Forward Theater. This fall, she was seen in Unnecessary Farce at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are In A Play!” at First Stage Children’s Theater.

Jordan Arrasmith (Crutchie) makes his Skylight Music Theatre debut by living out a childhood dream of playing the role of Crutchie. Prior to Newsies at Skylight, he will perform the roles of Buttons/Spot Conlon in Newsies at Timber Lake Playhouse. In Wisconsin he was seen as Ralph Malph in Happy Days: A New Musical at The Palace Theater in The Dells. Other regional credits include Mamma Mia and Ghost at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

Nicholas Parrott (Davey) will make his Skylight Music Theatre debutOriginally from Gurnee, Ill., he holds a BA in Theatre Arts and Dance from Marquette University. Recent credits include: West Side Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), The Old Man and the Old Moon (Hope Summer Repertory Theatre), West Side Story (HRST), Shakespeare in Love (HSRT), Twelfth Night (Summit Players Theatre), Little Women (MU) and Anything Goes (MU).

Natalie Harris (Medda Larkin) A performer, director and voice/acting teacher, Harris starred in the Lena Baker Story biopic and acted in the movie The Honeydripper, starring Danny Glover. She is a recording artist and songwriter who released her debut album entitled, "We Believe" in 2017. She has shared the stage with many Gospel greats from Tasha Cobbs to Donnie McClurkin.

Lee Palmer* (Pulitzer) last seen at Skylight as Tonton in Once on this Island (2015). Other Wisconsin credits: A Murder is Announced and Ghost, The Musical at Peninsula Players; Race, and The Exonerated at Next Act Theatre; To Kill a Mockingbird, A Christmas Carol, and Benito Cereno at Milwaukee Repertory Theater; A Few Good Men and The Millionairess at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Regional credits include Jitney at Congo Square Theatre (Jeff Award nom., Black Excellence Award winner); and Two Trains Running at the Goodman Theatre. TV:  Empire, Chicago Fire, Spike Lee’s CHI-RAQ.

Abram Nelson (Les) has appeared at First Stage as Stink in Judy Moody and Stink and as Charlie in Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Edward Owczarski (Les) has been seen at Milwaukee Repertory Theater as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol and as Teddy in Best Christmas Pageant Ever-The Musical with First Stage.

PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

Performances of Newsies are Friday, November 15 through Sunday, December 29 in the Cabot Theatre, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

BOX OFFICE

Tickets available at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, by calling (414) 291-7800, or visiting www.skylightmusictheatre.org

  • Box Office hours are noon - 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to performances.
  • Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more by calling (414) 291-7800 and asking for Kelley, or by emailing tickets@skylightmusictheatre.org
  • Please let the Box Office know if accessible seating is needed, or if patrons will have a wheelchair or walker.
  • For more information visit skylightmusictheatre.org, email info@skylightmusictheatre.org

SPECIAL EVENTS

Skylight Insights. Free in-depth discussions with special guests one hour before Wednesday and Sunday performances.

Sensory Friendly Performance. A sensory friendly performance of Newsies will be presented on Wednesday, November 27 at 6 p.m. Tickets for this performance will be available beginning Monday, October 28 and are only available by calling Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800. Support for Sensory Friendly performance provided by UPAF Connect.

ASL Performance. Newsies will be interpreted in American Sign Language on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. Call Skylight Music Theatre's Box Office at (414) 291-7800 and mention ASL performance for seating in the appropriate section. ASL interpreters provided by UPAF Connect.

SKYLIGHT BAR & BISTRO

Skylight Bar & Bistro is located on the second floor of The Broadway Theatre Center. Open two hours before each performance featuring gourmet dining and fine wine by Indulge Wine Room. Reservations are recommended at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/bistro or by calling (414) 291-3773. Counter service is available without reservations.

PARKING VOUCHERS

Purchase $5 discounted parking vouchers from the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee Street (one block east and one block north). Vouchers are valid between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. (evening performances only). Voucher sales are not available during intermission. No refunds.

Newsies is sponsored by Baird Private Asset Management. Skylight Music Theatre’s 2019-2020 Season is sponsored by the United Performing Arts Fund, the Wisconsin Arts Board and CAMPAC, the Milwaukee County Arts Fund.

About Skylight Music Theatre

Skylight Music Theatre celebrates its 60th anniversary during the 2019-2020 season. Skylight’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight brings fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.


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