Disney’s Newsies at Arena Stage Demands Your Attention


Suzanne Blue Star Boy

Read all about it. Newsies is on stage until the end of the month.

All over the world, young people are demanding they be heard. Whether it’s about climate change or social injustices, young people are done just listening, now they want to run the conversation. Disney’s Newsies shows just how powerful young people can be, especially when they are united. It is the perfect play to watch so you are inspired to speak up about issues that are often overlooked. This riveting play is at Arena Stage until December 29th. 

Don’t be afraid to go for what you want, don’t let outside people tell you what you should do… you just have to go with it full force and follow that dream of yours no matter what it is.”

— Tanner Pflueger, dancer in Newsies

Newsies follows the story of Jack Kelly (played by David J. Maldonado), an escaped convict turned newsie, a person who sells newspapers. He is joined by Davey (Ethan Van Slyke), and his younger brother Les (Hazel Hay/ Josiah Smothers), who both turned newsies after their parents were left unemployed. The action all goes down when Joseph Pulitzer (Edward Gero), newspaper producer, raises the price of newspapers making it even more difficult to sell papers.

We follow the newsies as they organize a union and go on strike until newspaper prices go back down. As the fight goes on, more and more child workers join the cause. Along the way we meet aspiring journalist, Katherine Plummer (Erin Weaver) who is looking for the perfect story in order to break out of the entertainment section. She helps the newsies spread their message and shows everyone they mean business. We also learn that there is more to Plummer’s past than she is letting on. 

The Chieftain had the chance to speak to actor and dancer, Tanner Pflueger. Pflueger was inspired to dance after watching his cousin perform in a recital, and at 7 he began taking classes. What started as a tap/jazz combo class set the stage for dancing in numerous musicals, including Guys and Dolls (Broadway At Music Circus) and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Theatre Under the Stars). He finds dance inspiration in Gene Kelly, he said, “the way that he dances is incredible and masculine and it’s just very inspiring.” As for his personal life, he looks to his mom for constant support, he said, “she was always behind me 100%… the amount of support that she has given me has really inspired me to follow what I love.” Pflueger also had advice to offer aspiring actors and dancers, he said, “don’t be afraid to go for what you want, don’t let outside people tell you what you should do… you just have to go with it full force and follow that dream of yours no matter what it is.”

Newsies may be set in 1899, but the lessons throughout the show are evergreen. Now, more than ever, we are seeing younger and younger activists quick to call out when adults in charge make decisions that damage the future. We are seeing history in the making; Pflueger said, “We’re creating a very cool story together and I think that’s just something that will stick with us for the rest of our lives because it’s just so appropriate right now.” Director Molly Smith summed up the emotions in the play well when she wrote for the playbill, “They [young people] have a fire in their bellies. They are fearless, they are outspoken, they are full of passion and rage, just like the newsies that populate this musical. ”

Newsies is showing until December 29 and is the perfect way to spend an evening over Thanksgiving Break! Don’t forget to take advantage of Arena Stage’s Pay Your Age program, this is a show you do not want to miss. The last thing Pflueger had to say about the show was, “I don’t think you could leave the theatre without smiling.”