MCHS bringing Newsies to the stage over May long weekend

Newsies hits the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Stage May 21 to 23

by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville Community High School will once again return to the stage over the May long weekend to bring the musical Newsies to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre stage.

The show runs at 7 p.m. each night with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and there is a 1 p.m. matinee showing on Saturday, May 21. Tickets are $10 in advance at the MCHS office and Morinville Sobeys or $15 at the door. The Saturday matinee show is a pay-what-you-can, sing-a-long performance.

MCHS Drama teacher Vanessa King said this year’s production has a cast of 32 actors ranging from grade 7 through 12, a crew of 10, as well as two MCHS alumni leaders.

Collectively, they will perform the 2011 Broadway play that was adapted from the 1992 Disney film of the same name.

“The version of the show we’re producing is the Broadway Script. It’s exactly what you would have seen if you bought tickets in New York,” King explained. “Most of my cast knew the Broadway version prior to auditions and they all continually listen to the soundtrack, but when we were first getting together as a cast we watched the 1992 version because I wanted them to see what New York looked like. I wanted them to get a sense of the city as another character in the story.  Plus, it was the version I fell in love with when I was a kid, watching it on VHS! What we love about the Broadway version is the addition of Kathrine “Plumber” Pulitzer who adds a strong female role to a very male-centered cast.”

Auditions for Newsies were held in February and that for the first time, the audtions were opened to students from Georges H. Primeau.

“We cast 4 GHP students in our show. They are amazing additions to the cast,” King said, adding the entire cast rehearses everyday after school from 2:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. Weekends and Professional Development Days sees a focus on choreography, with eigth to 10 of the dancers collaborating to create all of the dance numbers in the show.

“This is easily the most impressive choreography we’ve ever had in one of our shows and I can not wait to showcase the talent we have in this group,” King said. “We try to have a weekend rehearsal at least twice a month. It’s at these eight-hour rehearsals that we can really dive into scenes and songs. We iron out all the kinks and spend time creating character. Many of our cast members play multiple roles and so they’re always busy. I can’t understate how much work and commitment this group of students have put into this show, and it’s paying off! I am so happy with the way the production is going so far.”

King said the cast and crew could not be more excited to return to a live audience.

“Theatre is meant to be performed and shared with a community and we have missed that since A Christmas Story in 2019,” she said, noting that in 2021 they produced The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which was supposed to be performed for a limited audience on the school stage.

“One week before our performance date, new Covid regulations prevented us from performing for an audience,” she said. “We were able to film the show for our own enjoyment, but we knew it would never be the same as showing it to our town.”

Optimism for 2022 saw them put everything on the line.

“MCHS has a reputation for going all out in the theatre, and so what better way to do that than pick a massive ensemble show and give it everything we got,” King said. “Newsies is a huge show, big cast, big numbers, big sets, so we really want a big audience. We need people to come back to the theatre and experience a live show again. We promise it will be worth it. We’ve been working so hard to create a show Morinville will be proud of!”

However, King does have some concern with the Newsies taking place over the Victoria Day long weekend and feels they may have a hard time getting an audience out to the show.

“I know every director says this about every show they produce, but I really do think this could be our best show to date,” King said. “We’ve had some really beautiful shows in the last 5 years with The Sound of Music and A Christmas Story, and even Putnam, but the energy of this young cast is completely unmatched by any cast we’ve ever had. It’s unreal what they bring to every rehearsal and you can feel that energy pulse off the stage. I really believe you’ll regret missing this MCHS show! After all there can only be one return to live theatre in Morinville, and we need your support to make it amazing.”

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