RIO GRANDE — River Valley High School students are dancing and singing their way onto the Alphus R. Christensen Theatre stage with Newsies The Musical Friday and Saturday evenings with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
The Alphus R. Christensen Theatre is located in the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College’s John W. Berry Fine and Performing Arts Center.
“As a senior, I know that we set an example to the younger classmen. With this in mind, I want to be a positive role to them so that they can continue to excel. Musical season is my favorite time of the year,” said Ian Eblin, playing as lead character Jack Kelly.
Auditions for the musical roles began in December and students have been preparing for the performances through January, February and March.
“Students have been working consistently and we’ve done typical rehearsals, gymnastic rehearsals and dance rehearsals,” said Musical Assistant Director Aaron Walker. “These are some of the hardest working students I know. It is extremely rewarding to see them put all this work together and see what they come up with. I love the arts. It’s an expression of our humanity and from an educational perspective students have to analyze, express and have to do it on the highest level. They are pulling character, historical context, music, public speaking skills and doing it in a collaborative process. It’s challenging but one of the most rewarding things a student can be involved in…These are life skills.”
Walker said that students joining River Valley musicals often come from all walks of life, whether they are already involved with music programs, athletics or more academic-focused extracurricular activities. Roughly 40 students make up the show’s cast and around 10 are serving as stage crew.
“This group of students is kind of unique as there is a large group of them,” said Director Allyson Johnston, “we have around 20 seniors this year. I kind of fret over what kind of show to choose. This show has a huge group number cast and since they have so many I really wanted that. They truly kind of become a family after all of this. It’s been fun to see that everybody got to be involved.”
Newsies The Musical is based off of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 against Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst which forced their newspapers to change how they paid newspaper hawkers. The stage musical was also inspired by the 1992 musical film produced by Walt Disney Pictures of the same name.
“The musical will be really good this year. Learning the historical context has helped us understand the struggles that working people have had. I am thankful to have been a part of River Valley theater,” said Ethan Browning who is playing the part of Joseph Pulitzer, the show’s antagonist.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.