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'Newsies' draws a young cast to the Pequot Lakes stage

The Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts/Pequot Lakes Community Theater show's cast is made up primarily of youth ages 10-19. The show opens July 14.

Newsies 2022 (1)
The cast of "Newsies" rehearses "Carrying the Banner" on Friday, July 8, 2022, in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal
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PEQUOT LAKES — It makes sense that Kate Davis is directing the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts and Pequot Lakes Community Theater’s performances of “Newsies,” which opens Thursday, July 14, on the Pequot Lakes High School stage.

Davis is the kindergarten through sixth grade music teacher at Pine River-Backus Elementary School. With a "Newsies" cast primarily made up of youth ages 10 to 19, she’s the perfect fit for the director's job.

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The "Newsies" cast rehearses Friday, July 8, 2022, for the musical that will run July 14-17 and 22-24, 2022, in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal

Davis was actually the third director for the job. The first had something come up and wasn’t able to continue with the show. The replacement director had a work conflict during the week before performances, meaning that person couldn’t direct either.

So, once Davis was sure her kids’ track meets wouldn’t interfere with directing, she stepped up to the task. She’s spent the last several weeks preparing her large cast for their shows, including a few current and former students.

“(I’m looking forward to) seeing how the kids are with an audience,” Davis said. “We have a lot of first-time community theater actors.”

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Chris Hankins plays Elmer, one of Jack Kelly's newsboys, in the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts/Pequot Lakes Community Theater production of "Newsies," opening July 14, 2022.
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal

One of those actors is Chris Hankins, a Pequot Lakes High School senior. Hankins had dabbled in theater in elementary school, but didn’t start acting again until this last school year.

“I think my mom was just like, ‘Hey, I know you don’t want to do sports anymore, so try this,’” Hankins said.

Maarja Melander, an English and theater teacher at Pequot Lakes High School, told Hankins about GLAPA and encouraged him to get involved. Now, Hankins is a GLAPA board member and plays the newsie Elmer in his first GLAPA production.

“It’s a lot more proactive (than high school theater),” Hankins said. “There’s a lot more happening at one time. It’s a lot more high speed, which I like.”

The "Newsies" cast list
Performances of the Disney musical are in July in the high school auditorium.

Hankins' favorite part so far has been the dancing, especially his part in the song “King of New York,” the only song in the musical with tap dancing.

“Never tapped in my life. I don’t know how I got it,” Hankins said. “But I’m tapping, and that has been fun.”

Despite its young cast, “Newsies” is a show that all ages can appreciate. The show is inspired by the newsboy strike of 1899 in New York City and follows Jack Kelly and his group of newsies in their fight against the newspaper publishers who are raising prices at the expense of the newsboys.

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Brayden Werk and Cadey Porisch rehearse Friday, July 8, 2022, for one of their numbers in the Pequot Lakes production of "Newsies."
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal

“My dad is coming. Because he is a history buff. ('Newsies') is based on some historical events,” Davis said. “It isn’t like your typical 'Mary Poppins' or 'Cinderella' or princess story. It’s got a lot more grit to it, and it’s kind of an underdog story, and who can’t relate to an underdog?”

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'Newsies' performances

  • Evening shows: 6:30 p.m. July 14, 15 and 22
  • Matinees: 2 p.m. July 16-17 and 23-24
  • Where: Pequot Lakes High School auditorium
  • Tickets: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors 60 and older, $10 for youth 18 and younger. Reserve tickets by clicking the "buy tickets" tab at  www.glapa.org  or by calling Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-568-9200.
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"Newsies" opens July 14, 2022, in Pequot Lakes with shows July 14-17 and 22-24, 2022.
Megan Buffington / Echo Journal

Megan Buffington, Echo Journal intern, may be reached at 218-855-5854 or megan.buffington@pineandlakes.com . She is a 2021 Pequot Lakes High School graduate who attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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