We are back for our last, but certainly not least, final Newsies Interview!
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! Today is #4 and our final interview, and our handful of Newsies include Matt Groves, Matthew Quattlebaum, Josh Broome, Jamie Riedy, and Mitchell Smith.
Q #1: “Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into theatre.”
Matt: “Well, I actually used to play football but I quit sports for theatre. To be honest, I was getting hurt too much playing football and had a friend who encouraged me to audition for Singing In The Rain so I could tap in the show. Unfortunately, I had a game the night before the audition and I tore my meniscus so I wasn’t able to do it. That was kind of when I decided to focus on theatre solely. I decided I loved it so much I wanted to do it forever and I’m in my final year at Anderson studying theatre.”
Matthew: “I always had a love for acting and when I was little I memorized the entire soundtrack for Annie and performed the whole show for my babysitter. For a long time I didn’t know that you could do theatre for a living and in high school I was apart of a training program called AMTC which focused more on film based work. I was able to work on cold reads, teleprompter work, reading and auditioning techniques. Live theatre came about more when I went to college and after a first rehearsal for a show I felt a spark in me. The collaborate process and the unique environment of theatre really spoke to me and I realized it was another art form that I wanted to work in in addition to film and TV.”
Josh: “I started in choir and musicals in middle and high school and was taking private voice lessons as well. I studied classical first and eventually migrated into musical theatre. Every spring semester at my school I was a part of the big musical and had a lot of fun performing. So when it came time to graduate, it just seemed like the natural thing to do. I studied theatre at Anderson University and here we are now.”
Jamie: “I started when I was around 8 years old auditioning for shows and I got into it mainly because my older siblings, Maggie and Kate, were doing theatre as well. The first production I did was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and I was a little frozen squirrel in the background with one line but I remember thinking this is coolest thing I've ever done. We continued to do it through our childhood and then began taking classes at SCCT and performing in shows in high school. Now, I’m at Furman working towards receiving my B.A. in Theatre Arts and a B.S. in Health Sciences. Since a lot of what I do in performances is dance I have a huge interest in exercise physiology and right now my track is pre-physical therapy specifically for dancers and actors.”
Mitchell: “I started performing when I was around 3 years old. When I was little I had no interest in anything and my parents tried so hard to get me to be involved in something. Then, I saw a production of Annie and it changed my life. I was spellbound, and as soon as my parents saw me that way I started taking acting and dancing classes, singing lessons, attending auditions, and so much more. You name it, I did it. We moved to Greenville from upstate New York when I was 11 and naturally I jumped right into the theatre scene here. I went to the Fine Arts Center for high school and when I graduated there was no question about it, I had to do theatre. I went back to NYC and studied at AMDA and the Barrow Group Theatre Company. During my final year of schooling however, I all of a sudden felt very burnt out from theatre, I guess because I had been running for so long. I took 8 months off to rejuvenate myself in Upstate NY and then moved back down to Greenville where I felt safe to rebuild myself. I started getting involved again in the local theatre here and that really has been bringing me such happiness for the past couple years.”
Q #2: “What is your favorite past performance credit?”
Matt: “I would say Gabe in Next To Normal at Market Theatre. This show is just one of those where you don’t forget the people you are in the production with. I still stay connected to those actors and they mean so much to me. It was also the first villain I played and I like playing those kinds of roles in productions. Plus, this show also has got such a powerful story with very real issues and amazing music.”
Matthew: “My senior year I did a one man show with was an adaptation of The Giver. It was three months of me and my favorite faculty member working one on one as I wrote this script which tells the process of someone discovering every emotion for the first time in history. I condensed a 200 page book to a roughly 30 minute show. I performed it in a black box theatre that only sat about 100 people so I was never more than 15 feet away from anyway and that made it so much more personal. Since it was a one man show, that just meant there was no fourth wall, basically I just talked to the audience the whole time. This show was my baby and I got to share it with the audience every night.”
Josh: “I would definitely say playing Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar here at Greenville Theatre. Beforehand, it had always been a dream show of mine and to have the opportunity to work on it again but play Jesus the second time was amazing. The show does have a heavy message but what I love about it is that it takes the story of Jesus as we know it and brings it into a more human realm. It becomes so much more relatable and people connect to this story more than you would just reading about it.”
Jamie: “I was in the youth ensemble at The Flat Rock Playhouse for their workshop production of Chasing Rainbows, the Judy Garland Story. I’m really proud of that musical because it then went to Goodspeed and now its at Papermill Playhouse and it will be heading to Broadway in the future. It was just such a joy and an honor to be a part of that show.”
Mitchell: “Whenever I get asked this question I’m always tempted to say these shows I did when I was younger but now that I’m older I have to say being in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat here at GT reminded me why I do theatre at all. The show challenged my dancing and I loved being a part of such a large knit ensemble that was so important to the story. We weren’t just there to take up space we actually pushed the show forward and had we lost a single person the show wouldn’t have been the same and I’ve just never had an experience like that before. Every night I was so energized when we would leave that stage, and our adaptation was very original and very cool. People just loved it and it was just so amazing to be a part of it.”
Q #3: “Who do you play in Newsies and tell me about your role and this show?
Matt: “I play Romeo, the lover boy newsie. He’s super fun really and I loved having the chance to create a backstory for him and to find his meaning in this world. I decided that Romeo dances for peace. He also does it to impress the ladies, but he dances because it brings him such peace in a crazy world. That leads me to the best part about this show which is the dancing. I’m dying half the time, but the dancing is incredible. We have an all-star cast and this is one of my favorite groups of people I have ever worked with. Everyone is so incredibly talented and the individuality of everyone just exudes from us when we are performing.”
Matthew: “I play Henry, and I think one thing this show really brings to the table, and I feel a lot in my personal life, is that even when everything feels out of control or really weird, and you feel like you’re just one voice and you can’t really do anything, Newsies shows you that you can. You see kids who day to day are working their butts off and are living hard and grimy lives but when something major happens in their life they take a stand and realize that one person can make a difference and together they do.”
Josh: “I play Finch and my favorite thing about it him is that this character truly is me. We are so similar, not only in the way he is written but in the way I bring him to life as a character. Also, this show just has so many people on stage but from the very beginning our director Micah-Shane really had each of us focus on creating our own backstory and every night an audience member could focus on any one of us and fully follow our individual story throughout the show. We could change someone’s life each show.”
Jamie: “I play Race, and I just love this character and show so much because I get to tap and I love to tap. This show is also so unique because there are so many different facets to it, the choreography, the book, the lyrics to every song, it’s all so different. You get tap numbers, and then jazz ballet numbers, anthems, and then ballads. It’s all just so multi-faceted. Plus, everything that this show represents and brings together is done in such an interesting and creative way.”
Mitchell: “I play Specs, and I love doing this show. I have to say one of my favorite thematic elements is that you choose your family and that when you are united you can overcome anything. I think they are both good messages that are relevant today and show us that things that we were fighting for back then are things we are still fighting for today. We have to keep our voices intact, our rights, and the things we believe in. As long as we are leaning on each other and using each other for support we can accomplish those things and this story is a great example of that. It doesn’t matter your age, your background, or how you live, when you are united, when you come together, and when you choose your family, you really can make anything happen and I just think it’s great that we have a musical about that.”
We are down to our final 5 performances of NEWSIES, and tickets are selling out fast. Give our box office a call at (864) 233-6238 or click here to purchase tickets online!