Weekend Plans: Go see Newsies!
Photo credit: KYMTC
Hannah Grosskleg has a lot in common with most Broadway performers. She loves what she does, has a true passion for performing in front of a crowd., and is quite good at it. Her resume of performances is long and she has absolutely no signs of slowing down. Oh, and Hannah is 13 years old.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity of viewing The Kemptville Youth Musical Theatre Company's (KYMTC) production of Newsies in Kemptville and Miss Grosskleg is one of the members of this extremely talented cast.
I’m a big fan of local theatre. That probably stems from the fact that my best friend Matt has been in about 60 plays and I was always impressed with the productions that he was a part of. It always struck me how my friend, who was somewhat introverted, just came to life when he was on stage. I’ve always felt theatre gives one the opportunity to express themselves and take on such interesting personas. This is very true with Newsies.
The cast, composed entirely of teenagers, absolutely blew me away. Admittedly, this musical is one that I was not too familiar with. In the late 1800's, 17-year-old Jack Kelly is one of many kids that sell newspapers, or ‘papes’. Then, the powers that be decide to rise the cost of the ‘papes’ which leads to a strike. This story is told with the backdrop of beautifully constructed sets, great timing, wonderful choreography and some extremely strong performances.
While one can always head to New York or London for theatre, I’ll save you some money and suggest you to take the short drive to Kemptville for this one. I may not be a ‘theatre expert’, but I know talent and good quality when I see it and I saw it last weekend. Don’t think that because this is a local theatre and the cast is composed of teenagers that it isn’t captivating. It’s certainly going to be more entertaining than watching ‘Rent Live on Fox’, for the 20 of you that did.
Under the direction of Barb Lacelle, the cast of Newsies wowed the sold out audience that took in opening night. Playing the role of ‘Jack’ was Nathaniel Finn, a 17-year-old that I am told was making his acting debut. His debut? Ladies and gentlemen there was nothing about his polished performance that made me think this was a first time endeavour. I could share that same sentiment with the entire cast. These actors delivered a very strong performance that shouldn’t be missed. Do yourself a favour, get a ticket and go see it. And in advance, you’re welcome!
I had the opportunity to talk with Miss Grosskleg about her role and emerging acting career.
Ottawa Life: How old were you when you did your first play?
Hannah: I was seven.
What got you involved with theatre? Was there a certain play or show that you saw?
I wish I could say that there is this huge interesting story. My Mom and I were looking for summer camps one summer when we came across musical theatre. We thought ‘let’s give this a try’ and it went really well.
What was the first play you did?
Annie Get Your Gun.
How did you find out about this production of Newsies?
My Mom heard about it through Facebook and told me. At the time, I was doing another production of Newsies with the Academy of Musical Theatre. It was a lot to handle but it was ultimately really fun.
So, at one point you were doing both shows simultaneously?
Yes, which was a lot. One of the practices was only one day a week and the one I am in now was Thursdays and Saturdays.
What was the audition process like?
It was nerve-wracking because I have always done productions where you pay money and you are guaranteed a role. I have not a lot of luck with productions where you audition and hope for the best. I was quite nervous, but when I got the part I was very excited. I was assuming I would get a smaller part as I was new to the company but I got the role of ‘Crutchie’. Crutchie is a 15-year-old boy who has polio in his left leg and he is the main character's (Jack Kelly) best friend. He is very loyal to him and very optimistic in any situation.
You have school during the week and performances on weekends. How do you remember your lines and songs?
I’ve been doing it for so long it comes naturally. I skim over the script and listen to the songs and they get stuck. I’m surprisingly good at remembering lines and I have no clue why, but it comes naturally.
Why do you think people should come and see Newsies?
It’s great to support local theatre. We put on a wicked ‘Newsies’ not gonna lie but it’s pretty great. Everyone who did the Broadway production was talented, but they were in there 30’s. Everyone who did this is under 18 and it’s incredible to see that teenagers can pull off the same abilities as a 30-year-old Broadway performer.
How has being in theatre helped you in other aspects of your life?
It definitely helps with school projects as I am more comfortable talking to crowds.
Where do you see yourself going with this?
It depends on if I get into Canterbury (High School) when I audition and if I am still feeling as passionate about it as I do now when I graduate high school.
What would be your dream role?
It changes weekly but currently the one going strong is ‘Jesse Tuck’ in Tuck Everlasting.
Newsies plays at the Urbandale Arts Centre in Kemptville and the show times are:
Friday April 5, 7:30pm
Saturday April 5, 7:30pm
Sunday April 7, 2:00pm
Friday April 12, 7:30pm
Saturday April 13, 7:30pm
Sunday April 14, 2:00pm