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The atre its a production of the exu- 2018-19 season with Chattanooga The- Centre is opening berant ies” on Disney Friday, Sept. 21. musical “News
The Tony Award- winning musical dance numbers and rousing features rollicking musical score combined with an inspirational story.
Inspired by the real newsboys strike of 1899 in New York City, “Newsies” revolves around charismatic Jack Kelly, who sells newspapers on the streets — a “newsie” — living among a group of other young newsies, most of them homeless or orphaned.
Among Jack’s circle of friends are Crutchie, and brothers Davey Les, who have joined the newsies after their father becomes unable to work.
When powerful publisher Joseph Pulitzer decides to raise the cost of newspapers to the boys by a dime , Jack finds a cause to fight for. He leads the young army of newsies to protest and eventually strike.
Caught in the middle of this is spirited Katherine Plumber, a reporter trying to build a career beyond the social pages. While covering the strike — despite Pulitzer’s call for a media blackout of it — she takes a fancy to Jack.
Normand Caissie, 21, is making his CTC debut as Jack.
The Massachusetts native moved to Chattanooga eight years ago. His occupation is
marketing director for DK Real Estate & Property Management in Ringgold, Georgia; his avocation is acting. CTC audiences will probably recognize Caissie from performances with Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, Storyteller Productions, Kaleidoscope Entertainment and Closed Door Entertainment.
In fact, Caissie says it’s roles with other area theatrical companies and their overlapping schedules that prevented him from auditioning at the CTC until now.
“When the CTC announced t he 2018- 2019 season, and ‘ Newsies’ was the opener, I immediately cleared my schedule so I could audition. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a newsie?” he asks.
Based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, “Newsies” features a book by Harvey Fierstein, lyrics by Jack Feldman and music by Alan Menken.
For this local production, g uest di r ector Katherine Michelle Tanner of Sarasota, Florida, guides a cast of more than 40. Andrew Parker, artistic director of Chattanooga Ballet, is choreographer and Michael Huseman is music director.
While most musicals are remembered for their music, or a score’s unforgettable show- stopping production number, the musical’s signature is the athletic choreography required of its dancers.
Even though the story is inspirational in an idealistic David- and- Goliath way, the unbridled exuberance of the music and dance is what brings down the house. The music embodies the courage and idealism of the determined newsies, and the high-spirited dance is energetic, athletic and acrobatic.
High- energy performances are required nightly from the leads between the score’s musi c and the dancing demands.
“The toughest part is keeping the energy level up,” says Caissie. “This show is definitely the most energetic I’ve ever worked on. Luckily, we have an incredible choreographer who has made the rehearsal process fun and exciting. Each detail of his choreography tells a specific story. It’s truly great choreography!”
Caissie describes Jack’s character as iconic, but it’s a vocally demanding role.
“Not only does he have to sustain several high A’s throughout the entire show, but he also does a lot of yelling, which needs to be done correctly so I can remain vocally healthy throughout the show. As leader of the newsies, Jack has to energize everyone. If Jack’s passion and energy aren’t there, the show isn’t as exciting. So finding that balance between high energy and health/safety can be tricky at times,” he says.
Purchase tickets at the CTC box office, 400 River St., call 423-267-8534 or purchase online at TheatreCentre.com.
Noah Huseman, Hannah Rollins, Rebecca Hildebrandt and Nicholas Lyles, from left.
In his CTC debut, Normand Caissie stars as the charismatic Jack Kelly, an idealistic newsboy who rallies his fellow “newsies” to fight a ruthless newspaper mogul.