‘Newsies’ Broadway Musical Auditions Draw Actors to GCU
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University hosted an open-call, male-only audition Monday for the Disney musical “Newsies.”
A group of 30 teens and young adults, including a pair of GCU theatre students, auditioned for various roles. Other actors came from Phoenix-area universities and high schools. Seven actors were selected to advance to the next stage of auditions for the musical, which is currently open on Broadway.
GCU served as the tenth stop for the first round of auditions before the second round in New York. Finalists move on to audition for the Disney creative team in New York in July. The 30 men selected from nationwide casting calls like the one hosted at GCU will join the current Broadway actors and serve as replacements or fill-ins.
Telsey and Company casting director Justin Huff said GCU was selected because the University offered a large, centrally-located spot in the Valley. Huff and an associate choreographer directed the group on a combination of routines from the show and critiqued their performances. Huff said the open casting gave the young performers a chance to experience a taste of Broadway and gauge their abilities.
“I think for so many people that have a dream and want to perform on Broadway, they get the benefit of seeing how a Broadway show is run,” Huff said. “It is a chance for them to see the level of competition and see where they fall in that spectrum.”
The musical “Newsies,” winner of two Tony Awards in 2012, is based on the New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899. Newspaper boys, who at that time were called “newsies,” went on strike to protest low child labor wages paid by New York World newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer. After two weeks and a massive reduction in newspaper circulation, the strike ended with the newsies winning an increase in compensation for labor. The event inspired David Nasaw’s book “Children of the City: At Work and at Play” and the 1992 “Newsies” movie starring Christian Bale.
Performers learned a combination routine to the song “Seize the Day,” a popular scene from the musical. Throughout the day, performers were critiqued on their tumbling, tap and dancing ability.
“I think the most important thing is technique and ability to dance and do the things you have to do eight times a week,” Huff said. “The second most important thing is youth and excitement.”
GCU junior theatre major Zack Bender, 18, said he always aspired to perform in “Newsies.” He and fellow theatre major Zachary Kelly were among those who auditioned at the Building 9 dance studio on campus.
“It’s my favorite show on Broadway and I love everything about it,” said Bender, who has been dancing on stage for nearly two years.
“I heard they were coming to GCU and I said to myself, ‘I have to audition.’”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.