It’s almost time for our next production, Disney’s Newsies, a musical inspired by the real-life Newsboy’s Strike of 1899. We’ve assembled some special information to help you and your family to get ready for the upcoming performance. Before you go to the show, you might want to take a few moments to review this “Know Before You Go” Guide so everyone will know what to expect from the performance!
The Story You Will See
Set in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, Disney’s Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged “newsies” who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right. With help from the intrepid reporter Katherine Plumber, all of New York City soon recognizes the power of young people.
From the award winning minds of Alan Menken (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) and four-time Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Kinky Boots), you’ll be singing along to the hit songs “King of New York”, “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.”
June 1-17 | Best for ages 6+ | 2 hours + intermission
The Characters You Will Meet
JACK KELLY – The leader of the Manhattan newsboys is a surly, independent dreamer who yearns to get out of the crowded streets of New York and make a better life for himself out West.
CRUTCHIE – Jack Kelly’s best friend is a newsie with a bum leg that causes him pain, but helps him sell more papers.
DAVEY – Les’s older brother starts selling papers to help his family earn a living but becomes swept up in the fervor of the strike. A leader in his own right.
LES – Davey’s younger brother is inspired by the freedom of the newsies and loves their independent lifestyle.
KATHERINE PLUMBER – This young reporter wants to make a name for herself as a legitimate journalist in a time when women aren’t taken seriously. She is inspired by the potential of the brand new century.
WIESEL – “Weasel” runs the distribution window for The World and knows most of the newsboys by name. He has the help of the intimidating Delancey brothers, who keep order by any means necessary.
OSCAR and MORRIS DELANCEY – These thugs work at the distribution window for The World. They take the side of the publishers in the strike and are known to use their fists to make a point.
SNYDER – This crook runs The Refuge, a ramshackle orphanage for homeless boys. He is concerned only with catching enough boys to keep his government checks coming.
MISS MEDDA LARKIN – The bigvoiced saloon singer and star of the Bowery offers her theater as a safe haven for Jack and the newsies. She stands behind them in their fight for justice.
JOSEPH PULITZER – A businessman through and through he owns The World and is concerned only with the bottom line.
MR. JACOBI – The deli owner lets the newsies congregate in his restaurant to escape the hard streets of New York – when he doesn’t have any paying customers, that is.
SPOT CONLON – The reputation of this leader of the Brooklyn newsies precedes him.
Know Before You Go
Here are some things your family might like to “Know Before You Go”:
Newsies is inspired by the real-life Newsboy’s Strike of 1899, when newsboys Kid Blink and David Simons led a band of orphan and runaway children on a two-week-long action against newspaper publishers Pulitzer and Hearst. The details of the strike might be a little confusing to young audience members. It may be helpful to research the historical details before seeing the show. We have posted several links to kid-friendly explanations of the strike on our Facebook page over the past several weeks.
Newsies uses a lot of jargon and terms that might be unfamiliar to young audiences. Terms like “unions,” “nom de plume,” and the “orphan refuge” might be worth mentioning before you go, especially for younger theater goers who might not be so familiar with such vocabulary words.
The stakes are high for the newsies when they decide to go on strike — after all, if they can’t make money selling newspapers, the newsies won’t be able to eat! As a result, emotions run high and there is a point at which things turn a bit violent. You can expect carefully choreographed fight scenes that show the newsies’ frustrations.
The newsies mostly live on the street and they have a rough life. They might be kids, but they put forward “tough guy” personas. This includes smoking cigars, stealing, talking rough and acting in other inappropriate ways. You may want to talk to your children about whether this is appropriate behavior and why the characters might have chosen to make the decisions that they did.
Newsies is based on a historical event and real people, but it uses a lot of dance and movement to tell the story. You can expect high-flying, acrobatic choreography and parts of the story told through song. It can be helpful to listen to the music before you attend the show to become more familiar with it. You can hear some of the songs on the Newsies show page.
From Story to Stage
Disney’s Newsies is based on the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899. Children who sold newspapers on the streets were called newsies. The New York newsies went up against two newspaper publishers, Joseph Pulitzer of The World and William Randolph Hearst of The Journal, to fight for a fair price for newspapers.
The Spanish-American War made New Yorkers hungry for headlines, and circulation boomed as a result. Once the war ended, people were less inclined to buy newspapers— war was bad for the world, but great for the newspaper business. The strike was the result of the newspaper publishers refusing to lower the price-per-paper that the newsies had to pay back down to the pre-war prices. The newsies were not willing to pay more for their papers to make up for a lack of headlines, so they decided to strike—their goal was to make the newspaper tycoons treat them as legitimate members of the business.
The strike lasted two weeks, from July 19 to August 2, 1899. During that time, the newsboys drew support from newsies all over the Northeast, as well as other young workers like messenger boys, bootblacks, and factory workers. The kids banded together to support one another, and at times things became violent—scabs were attacked on the
streets, their papers ripped from them and destroyed to prevent their sale. Some boys lost their nerve and went back to the publishers, settling for the higher price.
The newsies eventually came to a compromise with the publishers: they would purchase their papers at the higher price, but the publishers would buy back any papers that the newsies couldn’t sell—this was more valuable to the newsies than a lower price would have been, as it allowed them to buy papers without the risk of losing money for any that went unsold. The Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 is a significant moment in history; it is one of the first strikes that was carried out by children and it ended in compromise. The kids won!
In 1992 Walt Disney Studios released a live action musical based on the real-life events of the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899. With a screenplay by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, and a score written by Oscar®- winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Jack Feldman, the film was meant to be a revival of the live-action musical genre. Though it was not a hit in theaters, its memorable score and athletic dance numbers made it a fan favorite, and it quickly gained a cult following.
THE STAGE SHOW
Disney Theatrical Group developed a stage play with composers Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and Tony Award®- winning playwright Harvey Fierstein. With this dream team of theater makers on board, Disney Theatrical Group began a several year process of making Newsies as beloved onstage as it was onscreen. Together with the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, Disney mounted a four-week engagement of Newsies to test the material. When that production received rave reviews and
international interest in the show, the producers changed course and announced a limited Broadway run. Newsies opened at the Nederlander Theatre on March 29, 2012. The show then launched a national tour before being made available for local theaters like The Rose to bring to audiences.
The Rose is located in downtown Omaha at 2001 Farnam Street on the southwest corner of 20th & Farnam Streets.
From west Omaha, take I-80 East to 1-480 North and exit onto 20th Street. The Rose is located on Farnam Street, approximately three blocks south of the 20th Street exit.
Parking is available for $2 in the parking garage at 19th & Harney, courtesy of the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission (1910 Harney St., Omaha, NE 68102). Parking meters surrounding the theater are active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with free parking available on Sundays and holidays.
While at The Rose
Have a Refreshment! Cookies, soft drinks and water will be available at intermission. All items cost $1 and the proceeds go to support educational programs at The Rose. Join Our Post-Performance Q&A Session!
A few minutes after the performance, our actors will conduct a Question & Answer session from the stage. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the scenery, costumes, special effects, and other aspects of the production. The actors may even have a question or two for you about the story.
Meet the Cast & Get an Autograph! Some performers will be available after the show to say hello, pose in pictures, and sign their autographs for you. You can meet them on the mezzanine level right outside the entrance to our balcony level seats.Take Home a Souvenir! The Rose Guild presents a souvenir stand before and after each performance offering a variety of fun and inexpensive show-related mementos. The proceeds help to support the great education programs at The Rose Theater!
Renew Your Membership! 2018-19 Rose memberships are now on sale. Rose members receive 4 free tickets to each of our
seven regular season shows. That’s 28 FREE TICKETS! For information, click here or visit The Rose Box Office.Grab a Theater Class Brochure!
If you like what you saw on the stage and think you’d like to be a part of it, try taking a theater class here at The Rose Theater. We offer a wide range of arts classes for every interest and experience level.
Please visit our website to read director’s notes and view production photos. Box Office Assistance The Rose Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm at (402) 345-4849. Information and ticketing is also available online at www.rosetheater.org.