CF students perform in Newsies at Black Hawk Children’s Theater

The audience roared with excitement as Cedar Fallz High Schoolers Griffin Searfoss, Walker Taylor, Julia Haworth and Hannah Posekany quickly ran onto the stage and took their final bows for Newsies Jr. at the Black Hawk Children’s Theatre in Waterloo. Auditions were back in June, and the first rehearsal was on July 5. There were two whole months of rehearsals, practicing singing, dancing and acting. The show opened Sept. 8 and ran to the 17, and there were also two school shows.

 A Jr. production is a one-act version of well-known musicals, which allows more flexible casting. The scripts are made to be more kid-friendly, and the music may be written in a different key to make it easier for young singers. These shows are put on by schools and community theaters for youth actors. The ages for these shows are usually 18 and under. Newsies Jr. is a Jr. production of the 2012 Broadway musical, which was a smash hit and won both Best Original Score and Best Choreography at the 2012 Tony Awards. 

Meet some of the cast of Newsies Jr. 

Searfoss played Jack Kelly and was unavailable for an interview, but it’s important to recognize all the hard work he did while playing the lead role.  

Taylor played Mr. Pulitzer. “I was very pleased when I found out that I would be playing Pulitzer, as it was a role that interested me when I did a little research prior.” 

Taylor wasn’t too familiar with Newsies. “I did not watch the show prior. I had seen snippets of the Christian Bale movie in choir, but we only got about 30 minutes in that. I did listen to the musical as I was prepping for auditions but that was it.” 

Being in a Jr. production means working with very young actors, which leaves the older actors some anxiety about how this will play out. “I was a little skeptical going into it with a lot of new actors, especially young actors, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how far they came and how much effort they put in taking the show where it is today,” and for Taylor that is what made this so different from performing at the high school. “It has a much broader age range for a cast, so you can not assume knowledge about things already. You have to assume everyone’s new and you have to be a lot more lenient and patient with things.” 

The hardest thing for Taylor was remembering lines. He missed a few rehearsals, which made remembering lines hard. Taylor said,  “I was behind on my lines for a very long time.” Of course with a little bit of practice and time, Taylor nailed the lines down. 

“My favorite part of being involved with this was just getting to grow alongside other actors, and the backstage shenanigans are always so much fun. It’s always so unique based on the group of people you get to work with.” 

A piece of advice Taylor wanted to give was, “Be aware of what different theaters in the area are putting on. Look into their audition process. They are happy to answer questions. Call them and ask. Auditions are probably a lot more low-key than you expect.” 

Haworth played a Newsie named Jojo. She was familiar with the musical before even auditioning. They said she would have rather done the original full musical. “Oh, definitely! There were a lot of gems in the script that were cut, but also performing in the Jr. show was a delight.” Julia did a lot of singing and dancing in this production. “I really like singing and dancing. I have been doing it since eighth grade for the first musical I ever did.” They said, “It’s easy for me because I love moving around.” 

Of course, some of the dances were harder to remember than others, and sometimes Haworth forgot the dances during rehearsals. It took a lot of practice to get them down. 

Something that surprised Haworth was, “We had a large cast like people in costumes had to think about every single one. Think about all these different costumes and characters. That really surprised me.” 

Some of Haworth’s favorite moments were using make-up to make their face dirty. “It was really fun. I loved doing the dirt for make-up. It’s really fun, and the cast is just extraordinary.” Another thing that Haworth liked was, “interacting and joking with the cast.” 

Newsies were working kids. Some didn’t have any families. Something that Haworth did to be in their shoes when on stage performing was they did research for their character. Haworth looked at many fan theories and found out what shaped her character. “I tried to hold myself as my character.” 

Haworth has also been in shows at Cedar Falls High School, and she said what made this different from performing at the high school was there was a lot more interaction on stage. “I felt like the cast and crew interacted more.” 

The one piece of advice Haworth would give to someone who would like to do theater is, “Auditioning seems scary, but everyone is in your shoes. Everyone is just as jittery and just as scared, and it will be fine. Just practice what you are going to say and just try your best.” 

Another piece of advice from Haworth is always look into the shows one is going to audition for. A lot of people go into it without knowing anything about the show and end up quitting the show because it wasn’t what they were expecting. One can also look on the websites of our community theaters to see what shows are planned and look into the show to see if it’s a good fit. 

Haworth also said maybe you don’t want to do community theater but you still want to try doing theater? With the drama department at the high school, keep your eyes out for audition information for the spring musical Beauty and the Beast.  One more thing, don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t get cast in a show. Sometimes you can work hard for something and not get it. And that’s OK. Pick yourself up and try aging at your next audition and maybe you will have better luck.

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