Alumni ‘come home’ for Stage Right’s production of ‘Newsies’
Stage Right’s upcoming musical at the Palace Theatre is going to be “big news” with its cast of nearly 100 actors representing the Greensburg theater company’s current students, alums and professionals.
“Disney’s Newsies,” the Broadway musical that debuted in 2012 and played for more than 1,000 performances in NYC, will fill the Palace Theatre stage for three performances Nov. 22-24.
Returning from his home in New York City to lead the cast as Jack Kelly — an outspoken newsboy who rallies a city full of “newsies” to fight for their rights — is 2015 Penn Trafford High School graduate Eric Phelps.
Phelps earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, is from Penn Township, where his parents, Brian and Tracy, still live.
Return to his roots
He considers it “an awesome and humbling experience” to return to his roots and his former training ground for his acting career.
“Stage Right has given me so much throughout my years, that now coming back as a professional Equity actor feels full circle,” Phelps said. “I love being able to be a leader and role model for the current student actors in ‘Newsies’ because I was once in their shoes.”
His iconic role of Jack originally was played by Christian Bale on screen and Jeremy Jordan on Broadway, “two incredible actors with big shoes to fill,” he said.
“This role is so much fun and challenging to step into every single night and learn more and more about myself and Jack, as well as where our similarities and differences are,” Phelps said.
“The most challenging part is finding the intricacies in every single individual relationship I have with every other character on stage, especially the other newsies. There are many other newsies in the show as well as other characters, and I want to establish a personalized and individual relationship to each and every other character I either do or do not interact with.”
Love, sacrifice, community
“Through Tony’s (Marino) direction, Renata’s (Marino) choreography, and each and every actor on stage, we are working as one powerful unit to tell a beautiful story about love, sacrifice, perseverance and community,” Phelps said.
His role also reunites him with Point Park University graduate Katherine Harkins of Latrobe as Katherine Pulitzer, also a former acting student at Stage Right. Other featured performers are John Noble as Theodore Roosevelt, Anthony Marino as Davey Jacobs and Alex Podolinski as Crutchie, all of Greensburg.
Phelps’ recent credits include “Leaving Brooklyn” off-Broadway, “Grease” for Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and “Ghost” with Clear Space Theatre Company in Sussex County, Delaware.
Stage Right’s “Disney’s Newsies” is musically directed by Hazel Braun and Christopher McAllister.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.