Dallas — When a rag-tag bunch of newsboys went on strike in 1899, little did they know that they would inspire a movie and a Broadway musical. The national tour of Disney’s Newsies, the Musical, which began in October last year, makes its way to Dallas with music by Alan Menken, known for other Disney musicals, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and current Broadway blockbuster Aladdin; and book by Broadway veteran Harvey Fierstein. Newsies is based on the 1992 Disney movie of the same name inspired by the real-life strike the New York City newsboys conducted after Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World, raised the cost of newspapers for the newsboys to buy and then sell to one-up his competition at their expense. The movie was a box-office flop, but became a cult hit thanks to home video and then the Internet.
The Broadway show opened in 2012 and won Tony Awards for Menken for his music and Jack Feldman’s lyrics and for Christopher Gattelli for his innovative, athletic choreography. Jack Kelly (played by Christian Bale in the movie) is the rabble-rouser who inspires his fellow “newsies” to take action against Pulitzer. He’s played by 22-year-old Dan DeLuca, who is experiencing his first national tour. DeLuca took a few minutes to talk to TheaterJones on the tour’s stop in Los Angeles about touring life and being rebellious.
TheaterJones: What’s been the hardest part for you to get used to about touring?
DeLuca: It’s hard just not having a home base, really. You have to pack up every week or two weeks and move to the next place. It’s just hard to have any sort of normal life, like finding places to eat or getting to the gym.
How did you get involved with Newsies?
I was doing showcases at school for agents when I heard about auditions for the tour. I’m a huge Disney freak, so I had to audition. But the thing is, the show has this amazing, intricate choreography, and I’m not a dancer. I can move pretty well, but I’m not a dancer, so basically, they told me that it was either be Jack Kelly because he doesn’t do all of the complicated choreography or I wouldn’t be able to be in the show.
Is the story of a newsboy strike still relevant today?
It is absolutely relevant! It isn’t about newspapers or a strike, it’s about these orphans—kids who are living on the street, real underdogs—standing up for themselves. These boys have dreams of a better life and Jack helps them fight for it. Jack also has a dream of living in another place, in Santa Fe, where he can do what he really wants to do.
Do you have a “Santa Fe?”
Yes … that would have to be Neverland. A place where you never have to grow up, and you can just play and do whatever you want. Ever since I saw Peter Pan, I’ve always wanted to go to Neverland!
What can audiences expect when they come to see Newsies?
They can expect an evening of music and an inspiring story and just the most incredible, high-energy dancing they have ever seen on a stage! There’s even a love story, but really, it’s about these boys finding the strength to stand up for themselves and make themselves heard.
What’s your favorite moment in the show?
It’s hard for me to think about any single moment—I’m on stage for all but about 10 minutes over the course of the entire show, so I never stop to think “Oh, this is my favorite part.” But really, any time that I am with my boys, the other newsboys, and we’re playing together, that’s the best.
What’s the most rebellious thing you, Dan DeLuca, has ever done?
Oh … I was such a goody-goody! I think I saved all that up for when I went to New York! OK, here’s something … I don’t think my parents even know about this. Like Jack, I have a thing for rooftops. If there’s a roof, even if it’s a roof that I really don’t have access to, I’ll find a way to get up there. Anyway, I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, and we had a trampoline in our backyard. Whenever my parents would leave the house for any amount of time, I would move the trampoline close to the house and jump off the roof of our house onto the trampoline.
You can catch DeLuca’s rooftop antics with the rest of the newsboys at the Winspear Opera House Wednesday, April 29 through May 10. Let’s hope he tells his mom about the trampoline before she reads this.