Extra, extra, read all about Stephen Michael Langton in “Newsies” at Segerstrom Center

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Cartwheeling, leaping, pirouetting and tumbling, acastof high energy, ragtag news boys dances “Newsies” into the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, May 17 – 29, 2016. The hot hit from Broadway was a surprise contender in the 2012 Tony Awards sweepstakes, winning Best Choreography (Christopher Gattelli) and Best Original Score (Alan Menken and Jack Feldman). Not bad for a show that wasn’t expected to run more than 12 weeks.

Cartwheeling, leaping, pirouetting and tumbling, acastof high energy, ragtag news boys dances “Newsies” into the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, May 17 – 29, 2016. The hot hit from Broadway was a surprise contender in the 2012 Tony Awards sweepstakes, winning Best Choreography (Christopher Gattelli) and Best Original Score (Alan Menken and Jack Feldman). Not bad for a show that wasn’t expected to run more than 12 weeks.

The show is propelled by the fan power of teen queens, who the cast affectionately call “Fansies.” “Fansies” infatuation with “Newsies” has made it so popular that twelve weeks turned into two and half years followed by a National tour.

And wherever the cult favorite plays, “Fansies” lead the cheering gallery. There are lots of famous names, Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, as well as the lesser known Kid Blink (fictionalized as Jack Kelly) who thrust the true story of a newsboy’s 1899revolution into in the hearts and minds of 21st Century audiences.

Lead actor Stephen Michael Langton, who plays Davy, the brains behind the strike, describes “Newsies” as “the story of underprivileged child workers, not just the newsboys but children from factories, slaughter houses, any business that used and took advantage of child labor, banding together to strike against publishers for raising the price of the papers.

These kids, who had nothing, formed rallies and make-shift unions. It was a big deal and they shut down New York City.” He continues, “For us, the cast, the importance of the story is these impoverished kids, mostly orphans, bonding together to fight against insurmountable odds.” “Newsies” is entertainment in Disney’s typical carefreestyleand that is exactly what audiences will get.

However, knowing that historically Pulitzer did agreed to a deal that resulted in the boys being better off, there is a moral behind the “Newsies” dramatization ofthe beginning of the child labor movement, in this otherwise lighthearted musical. Langton agrees with the principle behind the fictional strike. “At that time there was no standard on how workers were treated, on safety issues or the right to a living wage, especially for children. There are parallels today.

Just look at the Bernie Sanders campaign. There’s an underlying force behind political movements. The world isn’t always as it appears when we have the super wealthy in control while tons of people live beneath the poverty line. In the musical, the boys are the catalyst behind the change in 1899 society. Today, there’s some of the same sort of struggle and frustration with what feels like a rigged system.”

These are fairly weighty words about a show whose vibrant spirit is all song and dance. And whose talented castmoves themusical to greater heights. Langton says of the cast camaraderie, “the show is about a bunch of young people and we are young, mostly males. What I like best about Newsies is that I’m on stage, every night, with a group of guys that I really like.

We are here for each other; we depend and trust one another. I love coming to work, knowing that I’m part of a team.” While Langton credits the brilliant choreography as the musical’s main draw, he does describe his role as Davey as a pivotal part of the plot. “Davey’s not like the other boys, he has a family and he’s not homeless,” Langton said.

“His father was working in a low wage job but when he gets injured, Davey and his little brother Les go to work, selling papers, to keep the family together. Davey hooks up with the strikes’ charismatic spearhead, Jack Kelly and becomes the brains behind the operation. Jack and the news pack have passion and desire but lack know how. I have knowledge of how a strike works and can set the planin motion, unfortunately, I’m nervous in front of people and simply not a leader. But I run the show and it’s my idea’s that push the strike forward.” Langton knew he was a natural for the part of Davey.

“As I come to know the show and see where I fit into it, this is the perfect role for me,” he said. “We are just so similar, it’s almost too good. I relate to him more than any other character in the show.” The 1992 movie “Newsies” was one of the lesser known Disney films, yet it grew into a cult phenomenon that whisked it straight to Broadway.

This was most likely because of the melodious songbook. Composer Menken and lyricist Feldman wrote six new songs for the stage production, while keeping many of the film’s songs. Among the movie’s beloved tunesLangton lists“Seize the Day,” as a favorite. “It’s the biggest dance number,” Langton said. “It’s where everyone comes together with one singular idea. I love it, not for the sound of it, fans know the melody, but because the cast really gets into this number. It brings us alive with so much energy that it’s like we’re vibrating.”

“Newsies” has plenty of dynamic dancing but Langton loves to tap so “King of New York,” is his personal favorite because “it’s great that I get to be King– at least, at the top of Act II.” Langton has favorite scenes and lines. This is amusical with a well-rounded book that tells a tale about the clashes between the haves and the have not’s at the turn of the Century.

And yes, there’s a bit of romance thrown in as well. However, despite a good story and memorable songs, Langton says, “What ‘Newsies’ will be remembered for is the incredible choreography. When fans greet us at the stage door what we constantlyhear areraves over the dancers’ phenomenal feats.

From the beginning of the show to the end, they are non-stop energy doing acrobatics, gymnastics, giant backflips, split leaps and twenty turns at a time. They are amazing athletes, doing these tricks so effortlessly when the choreography is so difficult. ‘Newsies’ is a great story, there’s real drama, but what most people will walk away remembering is the extraordinary choreography.’”

“Newsies” is running at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall May 17 – 29, 2016. For tickets and information: The Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626; by phone 714-556-2787; online at SWCFTA.org. Hours are 10 a.m. -6 p.m. daily.

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