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Murray Journal

Extra! Extra! ‘Newsies’ on Murray Park Amphitheater stage

Aug 02, 2021 10:44AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The newsboys from “Newsies,” the musical appearing on Murray Park Amphitheater’s stage in August. (Photo courtesy Betsy Christianson)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

“Welcome to my theater and to your revolution!” With the upcoming production of “Newsies,” the Murray Arts Council presents their second Disney musical this summer season that originated as a movie. What makes “Newsies,” playing Aug. 6-7, 9, 12-14 on the Murray Park Amphitheater stage, interesting, is that it is very un-Disney. The story doesn’t revolve around cartoon fairytales or magical creatures but instead focuses on events in early 20th-century America.

Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, “Newsies” features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a play written by Harvey Fierstein. Set in turn-of-the-century New York City, “Newsies” is the rousing story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged “newsies.” On learning of a price increase for their daily newspapers, these young men organize themselves into a strong band of brothers who will not have their voices go unheard.

Veteran director Jim E. Smith returns to the amphitheater stage, having directed the “King and I” on it back in 2001 and “Little Women” in 2012. Winning the lead roles are two actors from Utah County who have performed on stages across the Wasatch Front. 

Playing Jack Kelly, the leader of a group of teenagers who organize a strike against newspaper publishing titans, is Jordan Pearson. He previously appeared in “A Christmas Carol” at the Hale Centre Theatre and “Who Shot Juanito Bandito” at the Pickleville Playhouse. As Kathryn Plummer, who falls in love with Jack but is a reporter, is Corinn LeBaron. This marks her return to the Murray stage, having previously performed in “Carousel.” She also appeared in Hale Centre’s “A Christmas Carol.” 

Largely a male cast, handling the newsboy roles are Drew Engebretsen (Davey), Gavin Ward (Les), Ira Robison (Crutchie), Brady Misustin (Spot Conlon), Cameron Ward (Albert), Daniel Bearss (Race), Elesaar de la Rosa (Sniper), Henry Hinckley (Finch), Spencer Nelson (Specs), Luke Elzey (Romeo), Micah Spjute (Ike), Caleb Spjute (Mike), Noah Johnson (Mush), Parker Lewis (Henry), Ryan Bullock (Elmer), Justin Ravago (Splasher), Wesley Reeves (Jo Jo), Zach Colemere (Buttons), and Ethan Christianson (Darcy). 

The adult ensemble includes Don Taylor (Joseph Pulitzer), Luana Parkes (Medda Larkin), Jonas Christianson (Morris Delancey), Warren Tharpe (Oscar Delancy), Kevin Elzey (Wiesel), Erik Christianson (Snyder), Bill Morey (Roosevelt), Marty Taylor (Seitz), Mont Hays (Bunsen), Melissa Van Dam (Hannah), Olivia Shelton (Bowery Beauty), Georgia Collings (Bowery Beauty), Cassidy Lewis (Bowery Beauty), and Mike Ward (Camera Man).

“Our production will have a live orchestra, which is uncommon for typical community theater. The ambiance of the outdoor stage adds reality to the production, making it stand out from the crowd. The enthusiasm and talent of the cast reflect in their performances as plucky newsboys of 1899,” Assistant Director/Stage Manager Betsy Christianson said. 

Joining Christianson behind the scenes will be Music Director Alyse Shattuck. Mike Romney has choreographed the numerous dance sequences and gymnastic stunts. Stephanie Halliday has costumed the cast in early 1920’s costumes. Turning the stage into the streets of New York are Tawnya Bearss on props, Lindy Barrett on set design, and Josh and Jeannine Hawkins heading up set construction.

“This production reflects a wonderful tradition of Murray Arts in the Park,” Christianson said. “All our local performers and production staff have a passion and flair for storytelling through song, dance, and interpretation of characters. They truly take you into the busy world of turn-of-the-century New York and draw the audience into caring deeply for the struggles and triumphs of those who lived our story.”

Tickets for “Newsies” are available online at, at the Murray Parks & Rec office, or at the gate.