'Newsies' opens this week

Soundstage Productions director Lynne Leydier is always looking to take on a challenge.

In her first-ever Disney production, she has found that challenge in Newsies, filled with 30-plus cast member dance routines, raucous fight scenes and more torn newsprint than you can shake a stick at.

“I’ve done a lot of heavy shows, Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables. This show is a little more light-hearted, there’s a good message and I’m always looking for things that are just a little bit different,” Leydier said during a full dress rehearsal Sunday at the Lakeside Resort.

Based on the 1992 musical film, Newsies was inspired by the real-life strike of young New York newspaper boys in 1899 taking on publisher Joseph Pulitzer who tries to squeeze them out of their hard-earned bucks.

"This show is upbeat, has a great message and I think it’s relevant today with the charged environment of separatism,” Leydier said “This is about coming together and also for young people having a voice against the big corporations.”

The show opens Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre’s East Ballroom.

It’s the first time in the new and larger space for veteran Soundstage actress Ashley Surowski, playing vaudeville performer Medda Larkin, and her co-stars.  

“This is a huge space so I think the challenge has been moving into this space where we actually have a scrim, we have just elements in this theatre that we’ve never had in the ballroom,” Surowski said.

Larger than life set pieces and huge props would not have been possible in the Lakeside ballrooms where the Soundstage Productions musicals have been held in years past.  

“(Leydier) is creating the theatre even to another level this year, which is amazing. I don’t know how she’s accomplished all that she has,” Surowski said.

Another new challenge this year for Surowski alone, she is five months pregnant with her second child. “The theatre calls,” she laughed, giving a specific thank you to longtime Soundstage costume designer Kerry Younie.

“She’s actually made it so I don’t look pregnant, which is a miracle at this point,” Surowski laughed.

Nathan Heiberg, playing Newsie David “Davey” Jacobs in his first time performing on-stage with Penticton-based Soundstage Productions.

“I had worked with the cast for the past few years behind the scenes and this year was the year I wanted to be up front,” Heiberg said. “It’s going really well, it’s a lot of fun.”

He said the show, featuring complex choreography has “a lot of moving pieces,” props and set pieces moving through 30 to 40 actors going on and off stage.  

“Everyone has to know where they need to be at any given time,” Heiberg said.

Newsies runs from Jan. 23 to 26 with a matinee performance at 1 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Tickets are available online or at the Lakeside Convention Centre front desk.

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