Laurie Finnegan’s biggest challenge in theater is getting the cast’s schedule to sync up.
With a cast of 34 in Landmark Musicals’ production of “Newsies,” she has her work cut out for her.
“For schedules to be the biggest obstacles is fairly easy,” Finnegan says. “We’ve got an incredible cast that is willing to learn.”
Finnegan is at the helm as director of the production, which opens on Friday, March 24. It will run through April 2, at Rodey Theatre on the University of New Mexico campus.
“Newsies” tells the story of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of the band of teen “newsies,” who fight against the establishment.
The production is inspired by a true story in New York City in 1899. This is where publishing giants Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful New York newspaper publishers raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense.
Kelly rallies the newsboys and leads the rebellion.
The Broadway musical is based on the 1992 motion picture which features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.
The show features the classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.”
Landmark Musicals is collaborating with Sandia Prep for this show and is integrating students as newsies.
“We’re using the dance team as well,” Finnegan says. “This was the perfect show to team up with Sandia Prep. There are other students from around Albuquerque that are in the production.”
Finnegan says being able to work with a new crop of students is proving to be magical.
“We have young people learning from the more experienced dancers and actors,” she says. “This is exactly how we build the next generation of performers. They are coming together to learn and teach each other.”‘
Finnegan says “Newsies” also provides the opportunity for audiences to learn more about this moment in time.
“It’s teaching them about the 1899 strike that led to change,” she says. “It’s a lesson that you have to stand up for what’s right. It’s also a huge teaching opportunity for me because this event happened over 100 years ago. With all the singing and dancing, it’s a fun history lesson.”