For many years, Front and Centre Productions and Ignite Youth Theatre have been putting on musicals each summer, produced by Clearfield music teacher Stephen Switala. This past summer, they put on one of their biggest and most popular shows, Disney’s Newsies, which is a story about the newsboy strike of 1889.
The show was performed here at Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School in the auditorium from July 27-29. I had the great opportunity to participate in this show and would like to share with you what it’s like to be in such a large production.
The audition process for a show at a student theatre program rather than the school’s theatre program is slightly different. There are plenty more people in the room during the audition, each of them taking notes on how I did. Luckily, everyone who auditioned got a role in the show. Although this audition process is different, it gave me a taste of what real auditions are like for people who do this professionally, which is what I plan to do some day.
In my opinion, the cast for the show was amazing with extremely talented students for each leading role. Previous CHS graduate Lauren Butler played female lead Katherine Plumber and current Johnstown senior Jakob Petree played male lead Jack Kelly. These two seemed to perfectly portray their characters and did an amazing job acting and singing together, as well as on their own.
The rest of the cast, including me as a Queens newsie, was cast just as perfectly as the leads and we successfully put on an unforgettable show.
Practices are held weekly from June through the show at the end of July, which is about 7 to 8 weeks. Some people may ask if it is hard to do a show over the summer, and if it takes away too much time of your summer, and the answer is both yes and no. Yes, because some days instead of hanging out at the pool with friends or having a barbecue, you’re at an hour to two hour long practice inside a building. Or during show week when you want to party with friends at night you’re at a five hour rehearsal. Aside from that though, you don’t have to worry about cancelling your vacations or other summer practices, because they’re extremely flexible on what else you’re allowed to do and it gives you a great opportunity to make new friends. It’s definitely worth the time.
Being part of a cast of students from many different school districts is an amazing experience. Not only did I have my friends from Clearfield, I also made many new friends from schools all over the area that will last a lifetime. Being in a cast like this definitely created a special bond between everyone, no matter what school they go to.
The practices and rehearsals of the show is an amazing process to see and be part of. I loved seeing the scenes, songs, and dances all come together as well as the set pieces to help bring the amazing show to life. It’s really interesting to see a show go from people standing around in an almost empty room with nothing but scripts to standing on the stage in full costume with props.
The show nights of Newsies, in my opinion, were the highlight of the experience. The first night was an almost sold out show, and the other two shows were pretty close in the amount of sales. All of the hard work we put into the summer finally paid off as we performed opening night. We finally saw the show come to life for an audience.
While some people may be scared to perform, especially in front of that many people, I think that it is a great experience to put on a show to entertain others. Sure, everybody gets nervous at first, but when I was out on stage all of my nerves went away and I felt great. All of the hard work was worth it.