The Lake Washington High School (LWHS) drama department is set to debut “Newsies” this winter.
Based on the newsboy strike of 1899, the musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense, Kelly and his fellow newsies take action. With help from reporter Katherine Plumber, New York City soon recognizes the underdogs’ power.
Morgan Heetbrink runs the drama department at LWHS and is the director of this production. The cast began rehearsing the second day of school.
This is the first production of “Newsies” the school has ever done and Heetbrink said the drama department has not done many shows involving dancing.
It’s been challenging for the students, she said, but she’s enjoyed seeing the students rise and overcome the initial stumbles of acting, singing and dancing.
“It’s been kind of incredible so far,” Heetbrink said. “I haven’t seen them this enthusiastic and energized for a performance before…Even though it’s been hard at times, they always leave rehearsals with big smiles on their faces.”
LWHS senior Yuka Kawaii stars as Specs and serves as the production’s dance captain.
To her, the musical’s story strikes a chord with the cast.
“It speaks to our age group,” Kawaii said. “It means a lot that we’re the ones sending this message of like, ‘We can do anything adults can do.’”
For Kawaii, the show has been an eye-opener to how to change the world and the generation.
“It gives me courage going into the future,” she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of acting, singing and dancing hasn’t been easy. As the production’s dance captain, she said she’s enjoyed helping her other cast members learn the steps.
“There’s a lot of dancing in this show and some of the cast have never danced before,” Kawaii said. “It’s been great to help them and see them improve. It’s a big step forward for LWHS to take on challenging choreography…It’s amazing to see how far people have come.”
LWHS senior Hannah Tilson stars as Jojo. This is her first school production, although she’s participated in local theater productions.
“I love to dance and I really liked the message of the story,” she said.
She said she’s enjoyed seeing the show come together.
“We’ve all become like a close family and it’s great to see when we’re all working together and getting better,” she said. “It’s really satisfying to see the progress.”
LWHS’ production of “Newsies” will run from Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14. For tickets, visit www.lwhstheatre.com/disney-newsies.