DHS Productions’ “Newsies” illustrates issues society currently faces


Viktoria Wulff-Andersen

The cast and crew of Newsies prepares the stage before rehearsal starts.

Viktoria Wulff-Andersen, Co Editor-in-Chief

Update: Due to recent COVID-19 policies implemented by the Danbury Public School District, Newsies performances have been tentatively moved to the 4th, 5th, and 6th of June.

The cast of DHS’s Newsies has clearly been impacted by the messages of the story they are performing. 

Director Michael Burnett, who has worked with DHS productions for the past 22 years, describes Newsies as a “high-energy, family-friendly show that brings people on their feet. The dancing and singing portrays the story well and in a fun manner.” 

The story of Newsies takes place in early 1900’s New York, where a group of homeless New York City newsboys, led by a newsboy named Jack, embark on a strike against famous publisher Joseph Pulitizer, a man who put forth regulations that made it more difficult for newsboys to make money. The newsboys go on an adventure to make their story heard, befriending journalist Bryan Deton and female reporter Katherine Plumber. Both help the newsboys as their battle begins to wage across the city.

Newsies is a gripping show, and in a time of political corruption and media censorship, provides excellent themes relevant to today’s world. Burnett chose Newsies not only for its heart and energy, but also for those themes: “standing up to corruption and big business, child labor and abuse, discrimination against immigrants, and the power of the press.” 

Senior Jordan Toribio, who plays the lead role of Jack Kelly, spoke on the relation to Newsies and the power of the press. “There’s this quote that Pulizter says to my character in the show, which is ‘the headline crowns the victor.’ That really stuck with me. It’s almost as if an event is not in the news, it goes unseen, which is unfair because so many important and tragic events go unseen every day.” 

Toribio related this notion to the current Hong Kong protests, which the Chinese government is censoring in an attempt to weaken the protests’ power, and the current presidential administration, which often claims “fake news” in an attempt to weaken the impact of certain information.

Toribio acknowledges, however, that social media today plays a large role in getting more and more unheard stories out there. “It allows for the rapid spread of information, and for youth like those of us in the cast to get our voices heard. Jack and the newsies didn’t have that. Now we do, so we can tell these censored and unheard stories.”

Junior Justin Cordero, who plays secondary protagonist Davey, sees Newsies as an opportunity to portray many of these unheard stories through a different medium than social media. Cordero’s character ends up working alongside his younger brother Les in order to support his financially unstable family – a story that rings true for many adolescents at DHS. “I really relate to my character because of the amount of work he puts into life,” Cordero said. “However, I also really admire my character because of his spirit. Davey leads a riot with his brother Jack to conquer his problem of Pulitizer. It almost makes me feel like I can conquer my own problems that I struggle with just as he did.”

Freshman Chiara Bakalar, the actress of Les, also takes inspiration from her own character. “Les struggles with being a laborer, but he gets through it with optimism and good spirit. I like how he looks towards the future in a positive light. It inspires me to look at life in that perspective too, even if I’m struggling a lot.”

While Burnett claims the show can allow people to find “a lot of parallels to their own life” in terms of struggle and hardship, he also admires the show’s ability to inspire and motivate with energy and engagement. “This show is really inspiring in the sense that it shows that everyone in their own right has the power and ability to create change,” Burnett said. “The audience can take any lessons from the show that they wish, but the great journey the show will take them on will hopefully instill these lessons of conquering hardship that are relevant to today.”

DHS’ Newsies will premiere on April 2nd, with shows following on the 3rd and 4th. Tickets will go on sale soon.