Newsies Role Descriptions
About the accents: Students who watch the movie or listen to the Broadway soundtrack will notice that many characters speak with a New York accent. Actors are welcome to use an accent when they audition, but it is not required. Because the characters in the story can be portrayed as coming from a variety of places in America and beyond, we will decide on each character’s “voice” (including accent) for performance once the roles are cast.
About role genders: You will notice that many roles are listed as “male OR female playing male.” The lead roles in this show are overwhelmingly male characters. Because this story is based on an actual historical event, and nearly all newsies were male, we will still be costuming all newsies as “boys,” but most roles (as noted below) are available for performers of any gender.
JACK KELLY Male, sings solo, many lines, lots of dancing, stage combat
The charismatic leader of the Manhattan newsies, is an orphaned dreamer and artist who yearns to get out of the crowded streets of New York and make a better life for himself out West. Fiercely protective of his friends and strongly loyal, Jack isn’t afraid to use his voice to attain better conditions for the working kids of New York City. Though living on the streets has given him a tough-guy exterior, Jack has a big heart and can demonstrate a sweet vulnerability.
DAVEY male, sings solo, many lines, some dance
Les’s straight-laced, bright big brother starts selling newspapers to help his family earn a living, but becomes swept up in the fervor of the strike. A leader in his own right who is learning to use his voice to uplift others, Davey is thebrains of the resistance.
LES male, sings solo, many lines, featured dancer
Davey’s cheeky little brother, is inspired by the freedom of the newsies and loves their independent lifestyle. A precocious and natural newsie, Les is an intuitive salesboy and a pint- sized charmer.
CRUTCHIE male OR female playing male, sings solo, many lines, character dancing feature, stage combat
A dedicated newsie with a bum leg that’s painful, but helps sell more papes. Though he walks with the assistance of acrutch, Crutchie doesn’t let it define him; when in a jam, Jack Kelly’s best friend relies on a goofy- sweet sense of humor and optimistic resilience. Crutchie is the heart of the newsies’ resistance. The performer in this role must be able todance enthusiastically in character while still physically portraying Crutchie’s “bum” leg.
OTHER NEWSIES male OR female playing male, solos, lines, lots of dance, stage combat.
The core group of newsies who work the same neighborhoods as Jack, Crutchie, Davey, and Les, these hard-working kids function as a family that cares for and helps one another. Many of them are orphans, have families outside of NY who they send their money to, or have such poor families that they can’t live at home, so they become “roommates” with the other newsies as well as close friends. There are 14 newsies in Jack’s “Gang”: Albert, Buttons, Elmer,Finch, Henry, Ike, Jo Jo, Mike, Mush, Race, Romeo, Specs, Splasher, and Tommy Boy. Performers in these roles must create unique and specific characters with physical and vocal details that distinguish them from the othernewsies. All roles have multiple lines and solos and/or dance features.
FRIENDS AND ALLIES OF THE NEWSIES
KATHERINE PLUMBER Female, sings solo, many lines, dance including tap, stage combat
An ambitious young reporter working hard to make a name for herself as a legitimate journalist in a time when women aren’t taken seriously. Quick, funny, and resourceful, she boldly captures the voice of a new generation rising in her coverage of the newsies’ strike. While she generally has no time for cocky, streetwise young men, she makes an exception for Jack Kelly.
MEDDA LARKIN female, sings solo, some dance
Inspired by vaudeville performer Aida Overton Walker, this big-voiced saloon singer and star of the Bowery offers hertheater as a safe haven for the newsies. An astute entertainer with great comic delivery, she’s a good friend to Jack and stands firmly behind the newsies in their fight for justice.
SPOT CONLON male OR female playing male, one solo, some lines, featured dancer
The proud leader of the Brooklyn newsies, boasts an intimidating reputation and an unforgettable swagger.
MR(S). JACOBI male or female, several lines, no singing or dance
Allows the newsies to congregate in his(her) restaurant to plan their strike – when (s)he doesn’t have any paying customers, that is. This role may be played with an accent of the actors choice, and the character can be portrayed as a first-generation immigrant to NY.
STAGE MANAGER female or male, does not sing, some lines, no dance.
The stage manager of Medda Larkin’s club and also the MC of her show, running the backstage area and introducingperformers on stage. This performer must be able to switch from a practical, efficient stage manager personality to an energetic and entertaining ‘host of the show’ when they are ‘on stage’ at the club.
DARCY AND BILL male or female, some lines, some dance
Other publisher’s children who help Katherine break in to use the basement printing press to print the newsies’ paper.These actors will double in other roles.
MAYOR OF NEW YORK male OR female playing male, some lines, no singing or dance.
The Mayor of New York City rebuffs Pulitzer’s attempts to shut down the newsies’ strike. This performer will double in other roles.
GOVENOR TEDDY ROOSEVELT male, some lines, no singing or dance
A well-respected lifelong public servant, inspires Jack to stand up to Pulitzer. This performer will double in other roles.
PULITZER AND HIS STAFF
JOSEPH PULITZER male, sings solos, many lines, no dance
A pompous businessman through and through, owns the World (a major NY newspaper) and is concerned solely with the bottom line. Katherine’s no-nonsense father, Pulitzer doesn’t sympathize with the strikers, but he does eventually– and grudgingly – respect Jack.
WIESEL male OR female playing male, sings ensemble only, several lines, no dance
Or “Weasel,” runs the distribution window for the World and knows most of the newsies by name. Assisted by the intimidating Delancey brothers, who keep order by any means necessary, Wiesel is Pulitzer’s disgruntled paper-pusher, and requires an exaggerated, cartoonish vocal and physical performance.
OSCAR AND MORRIS DELANCY male OR female playing male, several lines, no dance, stage combat
Toughbrothers who work at the distribution window for the World, take the side of the publishers in the strike and areknown to use their fists to make a point. These roles require two performers who work together well with good comic timing, but can also be physically intimidating. Although they do not dance, these roles still require a strong physical performance with excellent self-control for stage combat sequences.
SEITZ male OR female playing male, small solo, some lines, limited dance
An editor at the World who advises Pulitzer, but ultimately admires the newsies’ paper.
BUNSEN male OR female playing male, small solo, some lines, limited dance
Pulitzer’s bookkeeper, comes up with the ideas to raise the newsies’ price per paper.
HANNAH female, small solo, some lines, limited dance
Pulitzer’s practical and insightful secretary.
NUNZIO male OR female playing male, does not sing, some lines, character movement feature
Pulitzer’s barber, who is trying to cut Pulitzer’s hair during the song The Bottom Line and the scene prior.
This role requires a strong physical comedy performance. Italian accent optional.
SNYDER male or female, several lines, no dance
The crooked and sinister warden of The Refuge, a filthy and horrible orphanage, is concerned only with catching enoughkids to keep his government checks coming. Though he doesn’t work for Pulitzer, he’s happy to team up with him to take down the newsies and get his hands on Jack. This role requires a strong physical and vocal character performance.
GUARDS male OR female playing male, do not sing, one line
The guards who throws Jack, Davey, and Les out of the building when they try to get in to see Pulitzer. These performers will double in other roles.
PHOTOGRAPHER male or female, sings ensemble, limited dance
Takes the triumphant photo of the newsies at the end of “Seize the Day.” This performer will double in other roles.
These are small group features with 4-10 in each ensemble. Additional features in dance, solos, and lines will be cast from among the ensembles.
BROOKLYN NEWSIES male and female playing male, sing ensemble, dance feature
Spot Conlon’s gang, the Brooklyn newsies are feared, admired, and respected by the other newsies city-wide. When they add their support to the strike in their feature number Brooklyn’s Here, they cause a waterfall effect that brings every other newsie in the city on board.
SCABS male and female playing male, sing ensemble, some dance, some stage combat
Newsies from other boroughs brought in to “break” the strike. Instead, they throw down their papers and become new members of Jack Kelly’s gang.
THE BOWERY BEAUTIES female, sing ensemble, dance feature
A small group of dancers who join Medda Larkin on stage. Vaudeville-style dancers, these performers must have strong, sharp dance skills, big facial expressions, and be strong singers.
NUNS female, small ensemble singing feature
A small group of nuns who offer free breakfast to hungry newsies. These performers must have strong singing voices and an ability to hold their melody while other performers sing counterpoint.
Larger ensembles—most performers will be a member of at least one of these groups.
GOONS male and female, stage combat
Hired thugs that join the Delanceys to rough up the newsies at the end of Act I. Students in these roles must demonstrate excellent physical self-control and strong physical acting.
POLICEMEN male OR female playing male, stage combat
Cops that show up during the strike riot. At first the newsies think the cops are there to help them, but the police jointhe fight on the Snyder’s side and begin arresting newsies and taking them away.
MANHATTAN, FLUSHING, RICHMOND, WOODSIDE, AND BRONX NEWSIES male and female, playing male, sing ensemble, dance
Newsies from every other corner of the city that assemble to join the strike.
KIDS AT THE REFUGE male and female, physical performance only
Other kids who are incarcerated at the Refuge along with Crutchie.