Extra! Extra! 'Newsies' opens Friday in Elmhurst
Eleven-year-old Daniel Casey put tap shoes on for the first time when he was cast as Tommy Boy, a Manhattan news boy, in Elmhurst Children's Theatre production of "Newsies," set to open Friday, Jan. 24, at Timothy Christian School.
Tap dancing was the biggest challenge the young stage actor, a veteran of several Elmhurst Park District theatrical productions, said he faced when he accepted the role.
It was a personal goal that he was happy to embrace in his debut performance with the nonprofit theater company that features cast members in fifth through eighth grades.
"I love acting," he said. "I have to say I love to escape to different worlds other than this one and acting is a good way to do that."
Casey said the show includes tap and jazz dance numbers.
The show is based on a 1992 Disney movie set in 1899 about a group of New York newspaper carriers who rebel when newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer raises the price of papers.
"It's all about these kids who revolted and were going on strike," said ECT President Trisha Graham.
Graham said the two-act show features several splashy singing and dancing production numbers and a cast of 49. The show is directed by Helen Knudsen, a professional Chicago actor and director, and choreographed by Nina Davalos. Andrea Figueroa is the music director.
Graham said Elmhurst Children's Theatre does several plays each year.
"It's a nonprofit organization that started back in 1937. It's intended for kids of District 205 and any supporting schools like Timothy Christian," she said. "We rely so much on parents. The whole board is volunteer."
Graham said many of the children in the company's shows are involved with productions in their own schools as well.
"It gives them an opportunity to have different directors, an opportunity to bond with kids from all over town They all end up doing plays together when they get to York (High School)," she said. "My daughter is in eighth grade and she's sad because it's almost over. They love it so much. It's like they found a new family."
"They work really hard," said Deb O'Connor, Casey's mother, who serves on the theater company's marketing committee.
"It feels like a real musical. It feels professional," said Casey.
He said the show is entertaining as well as enlightening.
"There's a lesson in it and it builds up to something," he said. "Also, there's a fight scene, so that makes it awesome."
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Who: Elmhurst Children's Theatre
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25 and 26
Where: Timothy Christian School auditorium, 188 W. Butterfield Road, Elmhurst
Tickets: $10; $8 for 3 p.m. Saturday show