PC one of the first high schools to perform ‘Newsies’

by Nia Hoekstra/niahoek22@pceagles.org

PC’s theater program is going to be only the fourth high school to produce Newsies! Led by director Marlo Van Peursem, this year’s musical is taking place from Oct. 31- Nov. 2. Set in 1899, the story follows a group of newsboys, led by Jack Kelly (senior Braden Meinders) and friends Davey (senior Colby De Vries) and “Crutchie” (junior Carson Breon). The newsies go on strike when their boss, Joseph Pulitzer (senior Josh Beltman) lowers their pay, setting off a chain of events that sends journalist Katherine Plummer (senior Jocelyn Gritters) and Jack Kelly into a love-hate relationship. 

Van Peursem has been thinking about doing this musical for many years. “Newsies has been on my bucket list since I first saw it on Broadway in 2013 just after it first came out. It has only been released to high schools since last year.” He also hopes that all of the cast members will be using their gifts to do this musical justice.

Newsies tap dancers lift Davey (senior Colby De Vries) during a recent rehearsal.

This year, Van Peursem decided to add a younger cast member, fourth-grader Graham Beekhuizen, who will be playing the character of Les, Davey’s younger brother. According to his father, PC science teacher Greg Beekhuizen, “He was a lost boy in the high school’s production of Peter Pan a few years ago.  He loved it and told Van Peursem that he would love to be in another play. At the beginning of the summer, Van Puersem called and asked him if he would be willing to be in Newsies.”

Newsies showcases multiple styles of music, including a tap routine, a couple of solos, duets and plenty of ensemble routines. Senior student director Emily Van Beek is most looking forward to performance days. “That’s the moment when everything finally pays off: the sweat, bruises, scrapes, sore throats, colds, pulled muscles, and hours of work.” 

These countless hours of practice started in June for soloists and the first day of school for the full cast of 53 people, which includes 19 new performers. . . The casting process began before school got out last year. Any interested freshmen and returning cast members were asked to report to the music room to audition for their desired parts. “I auditioned for Jack because I love his character and progression throughout the story. He is witty, insecure, sweet, smart, artistic, and an all-around fun character to play,” said Meinders.

Some of the props and costumes this year are coming from the Des Moines Playhouse, who did the musical earlier this year. The tech teams have been hard at work organizing costumes, props, painting sets and more.

Tech director Daryl Van Zee is excited about the changes the new year brings. “Our wonderful tech team is always changing as seniors graduate and new faces learn how to use the tools, and show what they can do. Tech is as much about a team with a ‘can-do’ attitude as it is about a certain set of skills,” said Van Zee. “I extend an invitation for any interested “techies” to join us and see how much fun we have behind the scenes.” Van Zee works at Vermeer and volunteers to help the sound and lights crews make the cast look and sound amazing.

New people have also stepped into leadership positions. New officer president Emily Van Beek, vice president Halie Vermillion, secretary Jocelyn Gritters and treasurer Colby De Vries. New vice presidents include Abby Gosselink (costumes), Marie Johnson (props), Morgan Meinders (painting), Aubrey Belzer (makeup), Roger Gao (lights), Peter Larson (sound) and Zoey Nelson (box office). Nia Hoekstra is the new production coordinator.

The cast and crews are looking forward to seeing you there!

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