Madison actors take center stage tonight

Madison actors take center stage tonight


MADISON -- Disney’s “Newsies JR.,” a tale of a young newsboy fighting for what’s right in the news business, is playing at The Center Players Community Theatre at the Madison Square Center for the Arts June 9-12 and June 16-19.

Center Players productions take place at the Madison Square Center for the Arts. The Center Players formed in 2001 by a group of dedicated theatre enthusiasts, The Center Players Community. They are Madison County’s only community theatre.

Megan Mayhan, director of Newsies Jr., said this is a huge performance.

“This is a gigantic musical, from the dances to the singing,” Mayhan said. “Everything in this show is a powerhouse. The Disney movie it’s based on has become a cult classic and I know we’ve done it justice.”

Mayhan said the cast includes kids from Madison, Hinds, and Rankin County.

“Our youngest cast member is in the fourth grade, and our oldest cast members are graduating seniors,” Mayhan said. “Some are veterans of the stage and film, and others are newbies. We want to give everyone a chance here and put all levels of experience on stage.”

Performance times for Newsies Jr. are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays. The musical is based on the 1992 Disney film “Newsies” and the 2012 Broadway production of the same name.  

The cast includes 42 students from 11 different schools in the metro area. The cast, ranging in age from 4th grade to graduating seniors, is led by Mayhan, co-director Mandy Hackman, Bradley Davis, and Brittnye Aven as music director. 

Bradley Davis, choreographer and assistant director for the show, said the spectacle of the production is dance.

“The dances are extremely athletic and require a great deal of focus to successfully execute,” Davis said. “In addition to being athletic, the vocal performances for these numbers are riveting.”

Newsie’s Jr. tells the tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of young news writers – newsies - in Manhattan. When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsies’ expense, Jack rallies young workers from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what's right.

The musical features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, and includes rousing songs like “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “King of New York.” It is a timeless message perfect for the whole family and every audience. 

“The male lead is Maybury Smith, who plays Jack Kelly,” Mayhan said. “He is phenomenal, along with our entire cast. I get chills every time he sings ‘Santa Fe,’ his main song.”

“We started rehearsal at the beginning of April, and these kids have put in untold amounts of hours of hard work building the set, painting, and practicing for the show,” Mayhan said. “Center Players is a complete volunteer organization so there is no paid staff. This is a show I’ve wanted to get on stage for a very long time and we’re beyond thrilled to pull it off.”

The show is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International, and all materials are provided by MTI as well.  

For more information about Newsies Jr., visit for ticket information and prices. Tickets are available online or at the box office door, for $15. The box office opens 30 minutes before each performance.

Performances are Thursday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, June 12 at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 19 at 2 p.m. 

The Madison Square Center for the Arts is located at 2103 Main Street in Madison. 

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