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Squamish Academy of Music's Broadway or Bust Performing Arts program presents 'Newsies JR.'

Musical performed by youth aged 7 to 16 on July 22 at Eagle Eye Theatre.

While carriers no longer sell newspapers on the street, a lot is still relevant in the production of Disney's Newsies JR., which is being performed by 39 Squamish youth on July 22. 

This is a 60-minute version of the 2012 Broadway musical based on the 1992 film. 

When money-hungry publishers increase paper prices at the newsboys' expense, young leader Jack Kelly rallies newsies across the city to strike over the unfair conditions. 

The musical is inspired by the true story of the 1899 Newsboy strike in New York City.

The Squamish cast from Squamish Academy of Music's Broadway or Bust Performing Arts (BOB) summer program range in age from seven to 16.

"I was in high school at an art school when the original '90s movie came out and did a dance to the music back then. And I just always really enjoyed the music," said Melissa Braun, Squamish Academy of Music's owner, principal and teacher. 

"The message is basically that when we are united, we can take a stand against anything. We can be successful as one."

Newsies is BOB’s first full production from a three-week camp since 2019, due to the pandemic.

For youth who have participated in several camps pre-COVID and are back now, Braun said it is a unique situation where they were the intermediate members before COVID and now are more senior in the group. 

"I think they're enjoying stepping into that leadership space and mentoring the younger ones," she said. 


Lauren Bloom, 13, plays young reporter Katherine Plumber. 

"She is really confident and a really powerful woman in general and does a lot on her own," said Bloom, who has participated in the Broadway or Bust program about five times. 

She is excited to play a more central role in this production. 

"It's my first time having lines and my first time being one of the leads," she said. 

Lia Braun, 12, plays newspaper boy Charlie 'Crutchie' Morris.

She has been involved in musical theatre “basically her whole life,” she said, and is enjoying taking on this character after time away during COVID. 

"I feel like he's really determined,” she said of her character.  “And he's a bit more of a soft character. Still tough, but compared to some of the newsies... he's really positive. And he tries to make the best of everything." 

Frankie Baines, 15, plays Jack Kelly, the main character. This is Baines's first year in the program. 

"He's like the leader of the newsies. He's very self-assured," Baines said.

"He seems like he's a bit of like a big brother kind of character...He's a tough dude. But he has this kind of soft spot of just wanting to get out of New York — he hates it there. And he wants to go out west."

Baines said he isn't much like the character he plays — a confident, take-charge type — which makes the role fun. 

"I'm a sit and do my own thing person... I'm having a lot of fun with it, even though it's a little bit difficult to be completely out of my comfort zone," he said. 

Bloom summed up the group's feelings about the program this summer. 

"I just feel really relieved that we get to do it again. It makes me so happy. Like, these three weeks — they're always so special."


What: Disney's Newsies JR. by youth from Squamish Academy of Music's Broadway or Bust Performing Arts program

Where: Eagle Eye Theatre at 38430 Buckley Ave (Within Howe Sound Secondary School).

When: Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: Get tickets are $21.59 on Eventbrite.

The cast in rehearsal on July 13 at Eagle Eye Theatre. Photo by Jennifer Thuncher/The Squamish Chief


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