Just when you think Staples Players directors David Roth and Kerry Long have no more theatrical tricks up their sleeves — they stage a new one.
Every spring, they gather their cast and crew together to announce the following fall’s mainstage. It’s highly anticipated — but brief and straightforward.
A couple of weeks ago, Roth got an email from Disney Theatricals. The company handles all Disney productions — “Lion King,” “Mary Poppins” and “Newsies,” for example.
A few years ago, Roth and Long enjoyed the latter show on Broadway. As a recent production though, they never imagined it would be available.
But Disney’s email — prompted by 2010 Staples grad Caley Beretta, who now works there as a creative development coordinator — posed an intriguing question: Would Players want to pilot a production of “Newsies”?
If so, the highly respected high school troupe would give Disney feedback on what worked well (and did not), and provide video and photos. Disney executives would see the show, and use Staples’ experience to revise their production. It will then be released to other amateur groups to stage, beginning in the fall of 2018.
The process for selecting a show usually takes much longer. But Roth and Long love “Newsies.”
‘”It’s a true story about the 1896 newsboys strike,” Roth notes. “It’s incredible how kids working together forced Joseph Pulitzer to not take advantage of them. It really is a show about kids. And it’s an ensemble show, which is great too.”
This being Staples Players, there’s a strong connection to the Broadway version. Adam Kaplan — Staples ’08 — played Morris Delancey and a newsboy (and understudied for lead Jack Kelly).
Long had a great idea: Kaplan could announce the play to Players.
Last Friday morning, she contacted him. He quickly filmed a video, and sent it over.
That afternoon, Players gathered in the auditorium. Roth had said all day, “I am not announcing the show.”
Technically, he didn’t.
The video began. Kaplan insisted there was no specific reason he was chosen for the task. Meanwhile, he coyly showed his “Newsies” t-shirt, held up an album cover and walked over to a poster.
It was a clever performance — and the audience of actors quickly understood. They laughed and applauded. (Watch Players’ reactions in the upper left of the announcement video below.)
Soon — after this month’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” Black Box, and July’s production of “Working” — they’ll turn their attention to “Newsies.”
Roth and Long are already thinking ahead. They know they’ll integrate more girls into the show. “There were actually female newsboys back then,” Roth says.
And Kaplan will help in some way — with talks, workshops, whatever.
Those details will still be worked out. Like all shows, it’s a work in progress.
Stay tuned for more news.
(“Peter and the Starcatcher” will be performed May 25, 26, 27 and 28. Online tickets are sold out, but a limited number of standby seats may be available at the door, 20 minutes before curtain. Click here for show times.)