By: Shannon Kellogg
This March, around fifty high school students took the stage at Warren Area High School to tell the story of Disney’s Newsies. Under the direction of Ms. Jen Koebly, the cast of this year’s All County Musical worked tirelessly for many weeks, along with the student orchestral accompaniment, led by WAHS Band Director, Mrs. Marcia White.
Shortly after the New Year, over eighty students from across the county spent their night learning music, dances, and preforming lines during the audition process. Multiple EHS students received roles in the cast including Eva Turner (sophomore), Hunter Peterson (junior), Ashley Hall (junior), Aubrey Younger (junior), Morgan Kellogg (sophomore), and Shannon Kellogg (senior). The students then began rehearsing and learning the music with the help of WAHS Choral Director, Mr. Robert Pearce, the following week.
The story told by these Warren County students is that of the New York City newsboys in the late nineteenth century. Faced with raising prices of newspapers, poor working conditions, and little to no respect from their employers, the characters in the musical band together, much like the real newsies did, and strike for their rights. The show followed leaders Jack Kelly and Davey Jacobs through their “David vs Goliath” feat of challenging newspaper owners, Pulitzer and Hearst, for their rights as workers, all while including entertaining music and choreography.
Along with the onstage cast and the orchestra, many students and adults made this year’s All County possible, including Mr. Greg Waterman and his students in the BCO (Building Construction Occupations) classes at the career center, who helped build the set. Other helping hands included Mrs. Jen Dilks and Mrs. Amy O’Donnell, who took care of all the paperwork and logistics of the production, and Mr. John Wortman, who assistant directed.
The Squire sat down with Eisenhower junior, Hunter Peterson to learn a little bit more about the All County Musical. Hunter has been in one other show his freshman year (Beauty and the Beast), and is also involved in Choir, Fantasia, and Youth Connection. He was fittingly cast as Davey Jacobs, who is the brains of the group and takes charge to lead the other characters in the strike. He shared that a typical rehearsal started with running through the music of the scenes that would be worked on that night and then continued onto the stage to block out the scene, or practice what the audience would see. Hunter’s favorite part of the show was “one of the final scenes when all the newsies come together and prove that they are not useless members of society.” Hunter described the show as “amazing, exhilarating, and fun” which is true because it was a show for everyone to enjoy.
Newsies was the first theatrical event to be held in the newly renovated WAHS auditorium and was a huge success.