It has been an emotional time for the Augusta Jr. players over the past two months, as they finally have the opportunity to return to the stage in front of a live audience for the first time in over a year.
Last year, the group had just finished their spring production of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day” on March 15th.
“And then the world closed on Monday,” Roy Lewis said.
Lewis now directs “Newsies,” which was first produced by Disney and premiered in theaters at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 before its Broadway debut in 2012. The story is based on the newspaper vendor strike. in New York in 1899 when the young newspaper vendors were being exploited by their bosses. It was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 2012 and won Best Choreography and Best Original Music.
The local show features a cast of 48 people and a live orchestra. The cast members began meeting in March for musical rehearsals before learning the expansive choreography the show is so well known for. Throughout the rehearsals, the students wore masks but will be maskless during performances from June 11 to 13. Members of the public will be required to wear a mask.
Several cast members said the musical already has a special place in their hearts. El Rodriguez, 17, said it was the first musical she had ever seen and what introduced her to the theater. Since then, she has appeared in school shows and other local theater groups, but this is her first performance of Augusta Jr. Players.
Tyler Barr, 19, said it was his all-time favorite and unique musical from others because it featured tap dancing from male artists.
For 16-year-old Jesse Wilkerson, it’s a chance to finish what he started after COVID shut down “Newsies” rehearsals and performances in Augusta Christian last year. The homeschooler will now play the main character, Jack Kelly.
“When they had auditions for this, I was like ‘yay! “and then sort of finished with the role of Jack,” he said. “That was pretty crazy.”
While singing and dancing have hit home with some of the performers, others like 17-year-old Cameron Hern are drawn to the story and the message it sends.
“These children have been through a lot and we want to show the strength they had to fight for their rights,” she said.
A limited number of tickets for “Newsies” will go on sale at 10 am on May 24 at www.augustaplayers.org. Performances will take place June 11 at 7 p.m. and June 12 to 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. Adult tickets are $ 20 and student / senior tickets are $ 12.
“It’s the perfect comeback,” said Oliver Caffee, 16.