Newsies has a very unique cast for a musical. The ensemble could, in many ways, be considered the star of the show and the ensemble of Newsies speaks to individuality as well as to community. To help our audience members get to know each of the members of this fantastic group just a little bit better, we have 4 introductory blogs on our Newsies for you! Starting today September 4th and running for four weeks, we will release a blog every Wednesday introducing you to another handful of newsies. There will be four blogs total each containing some exciting and intriguing information about our 21 amazing newsies.
So let’s get started! Today’s handful of newsies includes John C. Leggett, Abby Kohake, Griffin Lewis, Austin Smith, and Annie Kayla.
Q #1: “Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into theatre.”
John: “I started very late in my high school career. One day, on a whim, I just decided to get into theatre. I was encouraged more by my friends to get involved and it was around the time that Glee was really big so that helped. I’m originally from Myrtle Beach and I was lucky enough that Anderson was the right school for me and had a great theatre department. I had originally gone in focused on getting a degree in education, as I come from a family of teachers, but as I continued in school I knew I had to be a performer. I was lucky enough to have parents who were very supportive and encouraged me to go for my dreams.”
Abby: “I always did put on weird skits with the neighborhood kids, putting on a cooking show or something. I had attended a summer camp called Governor’s School for the Arts. It’s sort of like a bootcamp and I attended a Musical Theatre one for three weeks. It gave me a taste of what college would be like and I really enjoyed it. I knew it was either theatre or pastry school and the camp really helped me make up my mind. So now I have my BFA in Theatre from Western Kentucky University and here we are!
Griffin: “I’ve always loved singing since I was little, however, I didn’t start doing shows until high school. They were doing Little Women at my school and the day came that they were holding auditions. So I auditioned on a whim, got in and really enjoyed it. I currently attend Anderson University and planned on studying Musical Theatre but then switched to Music Education. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and the music side of performing has always been my favorite, so teaching music just made sense to me.
Austin: “Theatre is relatively new to me actually. I didn’t really decide to pursue it until I was a freshman at North Greenville University. I did youth theatre and church plays when I was younger but didn’t discover until college that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My grandparents took me to see Oklahoma here in 2010 and I remember being so impacted and knew I wanted to make people feel the way I felt watching that show. I haven’t looked back ever since.
Annie: “I have been dancing since I was 5 years old but didn’t get into theatre until I was about 12. I saw a friend in a production in Pittsburgh where I grew up and fell in love with the combination of dance, singing, and big personalities. I studied engineering at Clemson University and started working as an engineer at Hubble Lighting and have now become a product manager there. I really enjoy working for a lighting company because I get to mix the technical side of my brain with the artistic side and combine both of my types of personalities.
Q #2: “What is your favorite past performance credit?”
John: “This past summer I performed at an outdoor theatre in Cherokee, North Carolina called Unto These Hills outdoor drama. It was a big show with a story that needed to be told and when working on this show I had the chance to receive my stage combat certification. I learned so much during that time, made really great connections, lived in the Smokey Mountains, and was able to perform such an important story for 3 months. It was amazing to see the impact this show had to our audience members.
Abby: “I would say playing Marcie in Spelling Bee was my favorite. I loved the improvisation element and every night we had guest spellers and never knew who would be joining us on stage every night. One night it was our university president and the other night it would be a local theatre personality. It kept it very fresh and you just never knew who was going to be on stage. I also loved playing a kid, sipping apple juice on stage, and just having a good time all around.
Griffin: “I would say I am most proud of playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat here at GT. Approaching the show I was so nervous, because Greenville Theatre is just a whole other level, especially compared to anything I had ever done before and I almost felt like I wasn’t good enough to do it. The show itself was amazing and the cast was wonderful; it was just such an awesome opportunity. It is definitely the show and role I am the most proud of and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Austin: I was fortunate enough to be able to tackle Macbeth in Macbeth. I cried many nights trying to master those lines and feel like I was doing the show justice. There are so many people who have done that show and who have performed that role and it’s truly iconic! And here I am just a junior in a college in the middle of nowhere trying to just give this show and role meaning. It was challenging and I would do it again without hesitation.
Annie: “I loved performing as Annie in Annie when I was younger but I would say my favorite was playing Ariel Moore in Footloose. My dad actually got to play my father in the show which was really neat for us to work together and even do some stage combat as father-daughter.”
Q #3: “Who do you play in Newsies and what is so fantastic about your role and this show?
John: “I play Jack Kelly in Newsies and I have always wanted to be a part of this show. It’s a hard score, with even harder choreography and it’s also been such a wonderful growing opportunity for me in so many aspects. Coming into rehearsal and playing Jack Kelly is so awesome, he’s just fun and fights for what he believes in. It’s so great every night. The set is insane, the cast is crazy good, and the show is just awesome!
Abby: “ I play Curly, a Bowery Beauty and a Nun. It’s just so fun to bring so many characters to life every night. It’s a really cool track and I hit the show from all sorts of different angles and roles. This is my first show at GT and just getting to know everyone and create my different character’s back stories has been really fun. I think there is something for everyone in Newsies. It’s political, there is romance, there’s drama and fighting. You truly have it all in one package so whether or not you are into musicals, you can probably find something you like in this production.
Griffin: “I play Splasher and this show is just so fun. It’s like nothing I have ever done before to be completely honest. The dancing is just next level and every number is like a full workout at the gym. I can’t wait to be in front of the audience with that energy and being a newsie is so fun because you are in almost every scene. Micah-Shane was really big on making sure we all have such individual backstories and Kimberlee has given each of us our own things to do during the songs so I still feel like my own character while also playing a newsie. Of all the shows I have done at Greenville Theatre, Newsies is one of the most high energy shows I’ve been a part of. It’s gonna be something everyone is going to remember at Greenville Theatre for a while.
Austin: “I play Elmer, (like the glue), and Spot Conlon. Elmer is just a goofball and there are even some funny jabs from the other guys in the show about how he can’t sell newspapers very well. Spot Conlon, who is the leader of the Brooklyn newsies, is different from Elmer in that he’s a little more grounded and sure of himself and willing to take on the role of leadership. I just feel like this is one of those shows that people are going to talk about for years to come. Our directors are pushing us in such a great way. Kimberlee is pulling out all the stops on her choreography and has so much faith in us and Micah-Shane is constantly reminding us to keep the story and the honesty of these characters. It’s a show about standing up for what is right and not being afraid to do so. It has such a powerful message and speaks volumes to what’s going on today in our world today.
Annie: “I play a newsie that I named Scuttle and every time I’m in rehearsal I’m falling more and more in love with the show and lines that are so relevant and prevalent to what is going on today. I mean we are talking about fair wages in this time period and here we are today discussing fair wages for women versus men. So I just love the parallelism between what is still going on in our culture today and what the newsies went through. This show is probably the most high energy production I have ever seen or been a part of it. It’s got it all, the highs and the lows, the crazy energetic portions and the emotionally touching moments as well. Plus a history lesson!
Tickets for Newsies are on sale now and we open in just over a week! Give our box office a call at 864-233-6238 or click here to purchase tickets on our website!