Disney’s “Newsies” will have eight performances at UNM’s Popejoy Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23, 8 p.m. Friday, June 24, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26. Tickets are available in advance at http://www.unmtickets.com, by calling 925-5858 or toll-free 877-664-8661, at the UNM Bookstore, at The Pit, at area Albertsons supermarkets.
By David Steinberg
For Stephen Michael Langton, landing a lead role in the touring production of Disney’s “Newsies” was certainly a momentous occasion.
Getting the thumbs up took on special meaning because he had auditioned for roles in the musical before – twice for the Broadway run, once for the national tour’s first year and once for a production in New Jersey.
No success. But Langton kept plugging.
“I auditioned for the ensemble mostly. …I’m a good dancer but not the best dancer. No cool tricks,” Langton said in a phone interview from Costa Mesa, Calif.
But he learned something about himself.
“I had been impatient as opposed to waiting for the right role. I realized I should have auditioned for the lead role of Davey (in the Jersey production). It was all about self-awareness, where I should belong in the show and not force myself into the show.”
He got the role of Davey for the second year of the show’s national tour.
A native of Texas, Langton had been attending Pace College in New York City for six years. Living in the Big Apple gives him the opportunity to audition for shows on Broadway, off-Broadway, in the region or planning tours.
He will be on stage as Davey when the tour production comes to Popejoy Hall for eight performances Tuesday, June 21 through Sunday, June 26.
The musical is about a group of young boys, many homeless teenage orphans, who hawk newspapers in New York City. When the newspaper owner decides to raise the per-paper price, the boys plan to strike.
Langton said the story of Davey and his brother Les is indicative of working conditions in the country at the end of the 19th century.
Hurt on the job, their father was laid off. Mother is a homemaker. So the brothers – Davey is 17, Les is nine – quit school to work as newsies to bring in income for the family.
“I’m a little more educated than the others. I’ve been going to school. I help put together the plans for the rally. What I lack in charisma I make up for in ingenuity,” Langton said of his character.
He thinks of Davey as a shy guy who doesn’t like to be in the center of the action.
“There’s a saying that the only time when you’re brave is when you’re scared. But he has to be brave for himself, his parents and the boys,” Langton said. “I show the progression of his character as he overcomes his fears. Initially, Davey is scared of the tough newsies but he must protect his brother.”
When Davey gives a speech at a newsies’ rally it emboldens him and he becomes a leader in the face of the newspaper publishers and “their goons, their muscle.”
Davey is an empathetic person, Langton said. He feels for his fellow newsies’ plight: They have even less than he does.
His character, he said, is more integral to the musical’s story than the character was in the movie.
“Newsies” is a Tony Award-winning, Disney-licensed “but it’s a real story with real people in it. (The period) was the beginning of serious reform in the country,” he added.
Alan Menken and Jack Feldman wrote the Tony-winning score, for which they wrote new songs, songs that where not in the film, Langton said.
The musical also won a Tony for Best Choreography.