In a theatrical atmosphere, period pieces are common, giving the actors the chance to step into the shoes of individuals who would have lived in the past, while giving attendees the chance to travel back in time for a couple of hours.
But with its upcoming production of “Newsies,” those involved with the Amarillo Little Theatre’s Academy hope individuals can relate the true story of the Newsboy Strike of 1899 to what is occurring with the youth in the world of 2021, more than 120 years later.
According to a news release, “Newsies” follows Jack Kelly, the leader of a group of teenagers who organize a strike against publishing titans after the price of newspaper distribution is increased. The ALT Academy’s production, which features 33 students and eight adults, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the theater’s mainstage, located at 2019 Civic Circle.
Even though the show is a Disney production, which brings brightness as well as big production numbers, Tre Butcher, who plays Jack Kelly in the production, said the darkness of the story itself stands out to him, finding out what these kids actually went through in 1899, sleeping on the streets and being neglected.
The subject matter of the production also stood out to Mikayla Garren, the newly named director of the ALT Academy, and the co-director of “Newsies.”
“When it first came out on Broadway, I was obsessed, as a dancer,” she said. “On top of that, it’s historically pretty accurate about the Newsboy Strike in 1899. When you do the research and look at the kids sleeping on the streets and how old they actually were, just what they had to do … it hits home … For this cast, I have been really surprised (in a good way) that most of them have done their research, like a lot of research, which is great.”
After growing up with the film, Butcher said it is a dream come true to be in this production. But through his performance as the main character, Butcher thinks he has found more of himself on the stage.
“It (has) definitely showed me who I am naturally on stage. I think I connect with Jack very well, so I think it’s taught me a lot of how to rally the ensemble around me, because Jack is the leader of these Newsies in a way,” he said. “Jack, he’s a dreamer. He’s a big dreamer, almost too big of a dreamer in some instances. I find myself relating to that all the time, you know dreaming too big and not keeping my feet on the ground.”
Alexis Bodkin also relates to the character she is portraying in “Newsies.” Bodkin portrays Katherine Plumber, a young female journalist in the late 1800s, which Bodkin noted was before women even had the right to vote in the United States.
“The fact that she has her own established career is so impressive to me,” Bodkin said. “She is very strong willed. She’s a little bit