By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — After a digital-release-only show in 2021 due to continuing pandemic restrictions, the RCS Drama Club was back in the spotlight this weekend for their annual musical production.
The club staged the Disney musical “Newsies” on Friday and Saturday evenings — despite a sizable snowstorm during the day Saturday — and a Sunday matinee.
“Newsies” is a musical based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899 and tell the story of a rebellious newsboy, Jack Kelly, who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city, according to Broadway.com.
“After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense, Kelly and his fellow newsies take action,” according to the website. “With help from the beautiful female reporter Katherine Plumber, all of New York City soon recognizes the power of ‘the little man.’”
The main character leads the group in striking to obtain fair working conditions and pay.
For faculty and the cast, being back on the stage live after staging a digital production last year was gratifying.
“We are incredibly excited to be back on stage with live performances,” said co-director Michelle McLoughlin, according to the district’s website. “The students have poured their hearts into this performance, and it shines through in every scene. We are incredibly proud of all of our students, and seeing them do their very best work and grow throughout this process has been an extraordinary and remarkable journey.”
In addition to singing performances, the production featured numerous dance numbers culled from a variety of dance styles, including tap, jazz and Broadway-style.
Students worked hard on the production for months.
“It is such a labor of love for everyone involved, from the stage crew to our volunteers and everyone in between,” said co-director Emily Haas. “Seeing it come together is really special. Theater and the arts are such an amazing outlet for our students to express themselves. As we move back to this space, to the stage, it has been so meaningful and memorable for all of us.”
Students taking to the stage this weekend in the cast included: Emma Banahan, Katherine Birch, Angelina Brandt, Caitlin Collins, Kylie D’Esposito, Madeline Dewsbury, Allison Evans, Victoria Faragon, Jenna Grogan, Lydia Hommel, Makayla Morris, Maria Morrow, Arianna Ortiz, Cooper Penzabene, Christopher Pittz, Renee Rivers, Elizabeth Robertson, Katori Ross, Sonia Snyder, Abigail St. John, Paul Truncale, Chesnie Waddingham, Aurora Wagner, Aidan White and Brody White.
In addition to all the singing, dancing, music and costumes that appear on stage, there is plenty of work done behind the scenes in any production. Students Chesnie Waddingham and Tyler Schwabrow were stage managers for this year’s show, and Jasmine Weidman was assistant stage manager. Fourteen students worked on other production aspects, including AnneMarie Bradt, Sydney Campbell, Zeppelin Chateauneuf, Anthony Close, Robert Conners, Carl-Hanee Coquillon, Savanna Fitzgerald, Nina Kozlowski, Casiana Pagan, Maeve Newkirk, William Robertson, Hannah Ryan, Arika Vogel and Brody White.
Harry Lindmark led the pit orchestra and Molly Engelhardt choreographed the dance numbers.
Numerous RCS alumni also lent a helping hand on “Newsies,” including Simon Lindmark, Thomas Marra, Cindy Neumann, Rachel Neumann, Charlotte Snyder, Kevin Thorne, Peyton VanDerheyden, Diana VanWormer, Scott VanWormer and Scotty VanWormer.