'Newsies' comes to Havre High School


Last updated 11/16/2023 at 12:50pm

Havre Daily News/Christy Banbrough

The cast of the Montana Actors' Theatre production of the Disney musical "Newsies" rehearses a scene from the play. The production opens at Havre High's auditorium tonight.

The MAT production of the Disney musical "Newsies" makes its way onto the stage tonight at the Havre High School auditorium.

This performance has been over a month in the making, between building the structure for the play and preparing the cast to take on their roles that depict a true historical story. The cast consists of 32 high school and middle school students, as well as eight adults.

"Newsies" is a story about a group of children who found themselves selling newspapers just to make ends meet. When the cost of the newspapers went up, the children's pay dropped substantially. Eventually, the children went on strike, which resulted in them coming out on top and agreeing to terms that became beneficial to them.

Director Angela Pratt talked about the story and the experience the cast has gone through to make this production historically accurate, while learning about how bad things used to be, in comparison to how the world works today.

"Jack is basically the leader of the newsie strike that happens in this show. He is one that has been a newsie his whole life. He doesn't have any parents ... and he has lived a life on the streets," Pratt said.

Newsies delivered newspapers in New York City, and all over the world, Pratt added, but this story is set in New York City.

"They weren't being paid fairly, they weren't being treated fairly. It is based on a true story, and they've combined some characters," Pratt said, "It's the newsies strike of 1899, it's pretty cool. The strike lasted about two and a half weeks... they were able to shut down the (two major newspapers.)"

The strike is reported to have dropped the daily sales of Joseph Pulitzer's New York Daily World from 360,000 papers to 125,000, nearly a two-thirds loss.

"It definitely has given our students a chance to be reminded of what we have, all the privileges that we have and the things we take for granted," Pratt said. "We have talked a lot about gratefulness."

Some of the main characters are Jack, who is played by Grey Brady, Crutchie, who is played by Maggie Daniels, and Joseph Pulitzer played by Michael Stevenson.

"These kids are doing a phenomenal job. This is my first time acting back in this particular theater since 1971, when I did 'Sound of Music,'" Stevenson said, "It's been really exciting for me to move back to Havre. One of the reasons I moved back here when I retired was to become part of this theater organization. It's not like anything anyplace else."

"The Newsies has probably been one of the most fun and challenging productions I've been part of in my experience here in MAT. It's really fun going from directing the last show I was a part of, 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' and bringing all that stuff I learned off stage and applying it on stage," Daniels said, "The cast and the crew are so much fun to work with. It's such an intense show and everyone's attitudes have just been so wonderful the entire time. I'm so happy to be a part of it and I'm excited to show the community."

Daniels is a high school senior this year and plans to minor in theater education in Missoula next year. Daniels still plans to return home throughout her college years to watch and support the multitude of MAT productions.

The dance director is Lindsay Lorang. The musical director is Angela Messinger. The stage director is Amanda Knutson, and assistant director Tylyn Turner. Tasha Daniels will be running the lights and sound, and Casey Pratt designed the stage set and design.

The two-hour production will be performed tonight through Saturday and next week Nov. 24, and 25 at 7 p.m. Matinees will be shown at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18 and 19 and next week on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Havre Daily News/Christy Banbrough

Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, members of the military and students; $8 for children grades 6-12; and $5 for children younger than 12.


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