Newsies gave all of us something to believe in and it taught us to stand for what is right. After a massively successful run on Broadway and a national tour, the show is being preserved on film so a new generation of Fansies can discover why we all love it so much. On Monday, newsies from every iteration of the show came together to celebrate the movie’s premiere.
You were in Newsies since its run at Paper Mill Playhouse, what is it like to be a part of the movie?
Well, it’s kind of crazy. I never left. I wasn’t on Broadway the whole time, but I joined the tour six months in and did a year and a half on tour. And then I did the movie.
Are you playing the same track in the movie that you did on tour?
No. So since I was a swing, they kind of added the swings in and we had our own track.
So you didn’t have a character name?
Apparently, I do have a name. I just don’t know what it is until the credits roll. I do have a name, but I was a Brooklyn newsie as well.
What is your favorite part of the movie that you are excited for people to see?
I think just everyone to see it and people who didn’t have a chance to see it.
What are the changes that you are excited for people to see?
I think they added more crazy athletic tricks and stuff.
Did you do any of those?
I didn’t do that much, but some of the other boys did extra flips and leaps and turns that weren’t there originally.
You did Newsies on tour and then you got asked to be in the movie. What was that like?
That was so crazy. It was so unexpected. Just from being away from the show, I didn’t know there was really talk of doing a film and then all of a sudden, you get a call one day asking if you could be back to run it again and I was just blown away and so thankful I was a member to come back. It was unbelievable.
What are you most excited to see of the changes?
Oh, that’s hard. There are a lot of upgrades in tricks and dynamics which I am really excited – not necessarily that I am doing, but that other people are doing. I am playing different roles this time around then I was on tour which is crazy.
Did you have to learn new vocals and everything?
Not necessarily vocals, but just tracks and roles. I am playing Darcy now instead of Bill and I am playing Kenny, which is a new added newsie.
They added newsies?
I am Kenny, representing Kenny Ortega who choreographed and directed the first film.
That’s so cool. Did your character have more lines?
Not necessarily. Josh Burrage used to play Darcy. Just with the tracking I had to go on, they had to switch things around.
So you get to walk Kara [Lindsay] onstage?
I get to walk Kara on. She is amazing. What an honor. And then my normal newsie, I don’t have any more lines or anything. It’s just a different setup. We had to rearrange some parts to make it more dynamic and switch things up a little bit to make the audience – to make it something they have never seen before.
Casey Cott (Star of Riverdale on the CW)
What are you looking forward to seeing about the Newsies movie?
You know, I have never seen Jeremy [Jordan] do it. Jeremy is a pal of mine so I am very excited to see Jeremy and the tour cast. I am sure they are amazing also.
You never saw the tour cast either?
Never saw the tour cast so I am very excited to see that. Just saw my brother Corey [Cott] as Jack.
What are you most excited for people to see and did anything from change from your character on tour to the movie?
So changes that my character had, I played Spot Conlon and Elmer on the tour and now I just play Elmer in the movie which is super fun because I got to focus more on Elmer.
He has more dancing.
Yes. He is in a lot of the ensemble numbers, he hangs out with the boys more, so I got to really develop those relationships. It was a ton of fun.
I am most excited for everyone to see how seamless we had to make the show because there are a lot of moving parts. You know, the towers, the choreography, all the bodies, so I think it’s going to be really apparent when you film it from a million different angles how clean and sharp the show has to be and I think that will come across. I am really excited for people to see it.
What do you think the biggest changes are from the Broadway version to the movie?
Oh, that’s a good question. A lot of the energies and characteristics of the boys are very specific to the people who played them. So each person brings something new to every character that they play and the energy is totally different from Broadway, to tour, to the movie and even –
It’s like you work with different people. So every single day you do the tour, you do eight shows a week, you get very comfortable with everything that happens and you develop relationships. Every time you pass this person on stage, you wave or give a high five and it becomes very routine. Then you add all these new people to it and you get to discover all of these new things.
Was it hard when the original cast members joined the movie?
Not really. We have an amazing creative team so they really made the whole transition as smooth as possible and then we went in, we knew what we had to do. They came in and they knew what they had to do and we all mixed really well. It was a ton of fun.
You were in the original run from Paper Mill, on Broadway and now in the movie – how does it feel to be a part of all this?
It has been amazing. It has been many years – I was getting ready in my hotel room today and I was thinking back to the early days when I was 21 years old. I was 20 years old when I got cast in Paper Mill and all the events that have led up to it, all the dreams that Newsies has made come true for me and it all comes to a head tonight. Tonight is the final chapter.
What was it like when you got the phone call asking you to come back?
It was amazing.
Did you think they were going to ask you to be in the movie?
I was expecting it because I had hung out with Lou Castro and he had planted the seed in my head – you know, when you are dealing with a movie, you can’t have characters or actors doubling as two characters. So I am lucky that I got cast as Spot Conlon originally because in the tour it’s Elmer and Spot Conlon but originally it was Tommy Boy and Spot Conlon. So they needed to split that track into two different actors and so I was lucky to be brought back on board.
You were known for giving the pep talks to the cast. How did that start?
It came from my heart, as corny as that is, but it just came from inside of me.
When did you start doing it?
it’s been an amazing journey and I don’t even remember where it started, but it always came from – it was just what I was feeling.
Did you do it every show, before every show?
No, not every show. Just before big events, just to get us together.
Do you recall any funny mishaps when you were in Newsies?
Jess LeProtto falling in the pit is my favorite mishap. That was the best.
What’s the best stage door gift you received?
A block of cheese.
Someone gave you a block of cheese?
A huge block of cheese the size of my head and it wasn’t addressed from anybody. I don’t know who sent it.
What was your favorite part that they changed for the movie and what are you looking forward to people seeing?
You know, I am a little unsure about that. I am just excited for the whole thing, to be honest with you. I think it’s going to be amazing
The Newsies movie will be playing in cinemas nationwide for 3 days only on February 16,18 or 22. Broadway Wiz is giving you the chance to win 2 passes to a screening ! Click here to enter.
Transcribed by Yaffi / Interview by Serena & Joy
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity