The costumes and tightly regimented rehearsals will come later.
In mid-August, with school not yet in session, cast members of the Brownwood High School Theatre Department show up for “work” at the Dorothy McIntosh Fine Arts Center at the high school casually dressed — mostly in shorts, T-shirts and caps as they prepare for the fall production of the musical “Newsies.”
The youthful cast members and theatre director Shannon Lee have been showing up for their own version of August two-a-days to take care of the endless tasks required to get a play ready for the stage.
Student choreographers have worked on the dance moves over the summer. Cast members recently displayed seemingly boundless energy during a practice in which they sang, high-kicked and tap danced their way through some of the musical numbers.
Set around the Newsboys Strike in 1899 in New York City, “Newsies” is based on a 1992 musical that also opened on Broadway.
Cast member Alyssa Salazar, a junior, explained the Brownwood High School production.
“This has been one of the highest energy shows that we have ever done,” Salazar said. ‘Newsies’ tells an amazing story about a bunch of little boys and going on strike and standing up for each other and being a family, which is something that is extremely important to all of us at Brownwood High.
“Our theatre department is such a big family. This show is just second nature to us. Being a team is what we know and and I feel like Miss Lee couldn’t have picked a better show.”
Salazar explained that the Newsies are orphans who live together in the streets, selling newspapers. Joseph Pulitzer, who is running The World newspaper, decides to increase the amount the newsies paid for 100 papers from 50 cents to 60 cents.
“That way the newsies would have to sell more papers just to make the same, and he would make more money but the newsies would be struggling,” Salazar said. “So they band together, and they form this great union and fight against these huge powers, which is unheard of at this point in time — because they’re just a bunch of little boys living on the streets, ranging in age from probably 6 to 17.
“They’re definitely the underdogs. They band together with the help of this amazing reporter, Katherine Plumber, and defeat this huge, huge name and they get what they needed.”
Other cast members explained the importance of theatre in their lives.
“We spend so many hours a year with these people, they just become our family,” junior Jordan Roberts said.
Roberts said theatre is a passion she hopes to pursue.
Roberts and cast members James Williams and Emma Grace Quillin attended the San Angelo Broadway Academy Broadway Legends Camp earlier this month.
Roberts said she met Kara Lindsay, who played Katherine Plumber in “Newsies” on Broadway, which is also Roberts’ role.
Williams said he met Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who originated the Crutchie role on Broadway. Crutchie is Williams’ role.
Cast member Caitlin Tucker, also a junior, said the theatre is her “home away from home. It’s nice to come here and just feel the love and work together on something that we all have one mindset on, and make it great,” Tucker said.
Theatre is an “escape” for cast member Carlee Richardson.
“I come here and all the world is just shut out, and I can focus on one thing with all my friends and do work, and then we get to show it — all our hard work to these people,” Richardson said.
Freshman cast member Kathryn Camp agreed, saying theatre is “like a second family.”
Another freshman cast member, Gillian Sapp, described theatre as “a lifestyle.”
Cast member Kate Yantis, a freshman, said she’s not usually someone who is initially open to people.
“It takes me awhile to get used to people,” Yantis said. “Theatre is a way for me to get to know people who are a lot like me. I can get on stage and be as big as I want, and the bigger you are, the better it is.”
“Newsies” performances are Nov. 8, 10, 11 and 12.