The Jewish Community Center’s production company, Gallery Players, is finishing its 70th anniversary season with “Newsies The Musical.”
The musical is based on the 1992 Disney film “Newsies” and is inspired by true events, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein. The screenplay is written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White.
The story is about poor New York City newspaper boys in 1899 who go on strike after publishing companies raise the price of their papers.
Ryan Scarlata, director of the production, said this will be his second time directing at the community center and that “Newsies” is one of his favorite movies produced by Disney. He described the show as having “a very talented cast doing the work of an incredible composer.”
Scarlata also said the musical brings light to a number of issues, including corruption of power, political climate and even police brutality in some moments.
“It highlights some really hard-hitting questions I think the audience is going to think a little bit about,” Scarlata said. “It’s almost disturbingly relevant, really.”
Scarlata has directed for more than 10 years, and said that with every production he works on, his favorite part falls on opening night when he can see what the audience relates to in the show.
“I don’t tend to watch the show very much. I sit in the back of the theater and I watch the audience and their response,” Scarlata said. “They’re going to find a piece of themselves represented in it somewhere.”
Cory Velazco, a music teacher at Columbus Global Academy — a school for refugees and immigrants new to the country — will play the lead role of Jack Kelly in the musical. Velazco described his character as “hot-headed” and the leader of the strike.
Velazco, 32, said playing a teenager in the show has been difficult, but his work as a teacher has helped.
“Being a public school teacher, I get to see 17-year-olds every day and how they actually respond and react to things,” Velazco said.
Velazco added that his favorite part about the piece is its message and how the music supports it. He said that seeing young people try to make a change for the better is something to which many people can relate.
“It’s something that’s going to be uplifting for people,” Velazco said.
Velazco said that despite the crew only having three weeks of rehearsal, not including this week, they all work well together.
“Being on stage with those people and having that energy of finally putting it in front of an audience is gonna be the best feeling in the world,” Velazco said.
“Newsies The Musical” will run March 2-17 at the Jewish Community Center’s Roth-Resler Theater. Tickets cost $25 for community center members, $30 for non-members, and $22 for students and seniors.