‘Newsies’ delivers message on rights, encouraging children to speak up
The actors rehearse onstage. Photo by Aniya Cathey with Arts Bureau Edge.
By Angel Cathey
DuPont Manual High School, Class of 2021
“Headlines don’t sell papers. Newsies sell papers. Without newsies, nobody would know nothing,” says Jack Kelly, the main character in the musical “Newsies.”
The newsies were real boys selling papers in the late 1800s and working to afford the daily expenses in their community. However, what they were given wasn’t enough. So they went on strike. They had a purpose, and one day everybody would know their name. They used one of the only things they had to stand up, their voice. Many didn’t understand their purpose. That was only the beginning.
Floyd Central High School, which is performing “Newsies,” is a public high school in Southern Indiana and “the best theatre school in the Midwest” according to Stage Directions Magazine.
My journalism camp recently interviewed people who brought the play together. Two of those people were actor Mitchell Lewis, who plays Jack Kelly, and director Robbie Steiner. They talked about how the play ties into the new era.
“There have been so many kids now standing up on their own and doing protests and boycotts,” Lewis said. “This show illustrates the power of kids and the change they can make on their community just by speaking and using their voice.”
“There have been so many kids now standing up on their own and doing protests and boycotts.”
Steiner also said Disney wanted as many roles to be played by girls as possible since in the original it was an all-boy movie, and many high schools don’t have that many boys to fill the roles. [Editor’s note: Many girls act and dance as newsies.]
Child and labor rights still play a huge role in our community today. In “Newsies,” boys went on strike because they weren’t being paid enough to support their expenses. However, the head in charge didn’t see this because they were being selfish. The boys went on strike to show they were serious, and without them, there wouldn’t be any newspaper.
This is just one popular play that had touched on child rights in recent years. Another play is “Matilda.” It is about a little girl whose mother and daddy are stuck up and mistreat her. Her school isn’t the best and has an evil principle. Yet, there is a great teacher who ends up taking custody of Matilda after seeing her home life. These musicals show how kids are in situations and find their own voices.
In conclusion, the children in “Newsies” pave their own way and show that children can impact their community when there is a problem. This gives children hope to know they don’t have to sit back and get treated horribly.
Children are the future. They need to know this, and I feel plays and books are helping them understand the whole era.