Collin Christiansen (right) practices a scene during rehearsal for “Newsies” on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at the Nikiski High School auditorium. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Collin Christiansen (right) practices a scene during rehearsal for “Newsies” on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at the Nikiski High School auditorium. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski students ‘Seize the Day’

‘Newsies’ comes to Nikiski High School

A diverse cast will put on a two-week production of the musical “Newsies” at Nikiski High School.

The show, which is being produced in partnership with Triumvirate Theatre, will feature actors and actresses from around the peninsula, a handful of performers from the Mat-Su Valley, and special appearance by interim Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent John O’Brien.

O’Brien plays a “relatively small part” as the mayor of New York City, Triumvirate President Joe Rizzo said.

“About a month ago, we called and asked him to do this,” Rizzo explained. “Then, literally, it must’ve been three or four days later when he was announced as the (interim superintendent).”

Rizzo is the show’s producer, and in his 20th year in the Nikiski High theater program, has seen a lot on stage. This time, Rizzo is welcoming a collection of theater talent from Wasilla and Palmer, including Collin Christiansen and Beau Hagerty as guest directors.

Based on the 1899 newsboy strike demanding fair wages for young newspaper-sellers, Newsies puts a dramatic spin on a historical event in turn-of-the-century New York City. The 1992 Disney movie — a box office flop that later gained popularity as a home video — was transformed into a musical production for Broadway and made its debut in 2012.

Christiansen, Hagerty and Rizzo were all part of a production of “Newsies” put on in Wasilla in February by Triumvirate in partnership with Sims Theatre Production. Rizzo said it was the first-ever stage performance of the show in the state of Alaska.

“After the first week, me and Beau decided we needed to keep this going,” Christiansen said. “It was a super big dream and we made it a reality.”

A Palmer theater veteran, Christiansen, 26, said he and Hagerty joined with Rizzo in helping bring “Newsies” down to the peninsula.

Christiansen plays the role of union leader Jack Kelly, while Hagerty stars opposite him as Katherine Plumber, a young reporter who attempts to tell the story of the newsies’ struggle.

“It takes some very big liberties with the actual factual story,” Rizzo said. “But that doesn’t really matter because it’s entertaining.”

Rizzo said the core group of the cast is from his theater production class at Nikiski High, of which about 24 are in the show. He said there are also additional names from Kenai, Soldotna and outlying areas on the peninsula.

The show features a dynamic storyline and song set list that caters particularly to young talent.

“It’s really a fun musical because it has a lot of tap dancing in it, a lot of acrobatics,” Rizzo said. “It’s a really high-energy show and that’s really attractive for the actors. They get to run around yelling, ‘Strike! Strike! Strike!’”

Christiansen delivers on several occasions with humorous lines and dramatic singing, and said the hook of the play is the social issues that intertwine with each other.

“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” Christiansen said. “You have humor and this story based on a true story, that has a lot of political and social implications all tied in. So you have the humor but also the deep story of the underdog, and that classic story takes you on the roller coaster.”

“Newsies” runs Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. each night, and will return for another two-night showing next weekend.

More in News

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Most Read