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By Maggie Schmutz
Writer Intern 

Theatre Royale's 'Newsies' is fun for the whole family


Last updated 6/17/2019 at 10:27am

Shane Gibson photos

Crutchie, Jack and other newsies pose, ready for the strike in Theatre Royale's "Newsies" at Pechanga Resort Casino.

Summer is the perfect time to see a musical. What better way to escape the hot afternoons and evenings than with an exciting story that is sure to capture hearts? Theatre Royale's "Newsies," with its energetic dance numbers and uplifting spirit, is sure to do just that.

Playing at Pechanga Resort Casino, the "Newsies" tells the story of the 1899 newsboy strike, which was an attempt to force Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to change the way they compensated their newsboys, otherwise known as newsies. Dillon Klena, who plays the charismatic Jack Kelly in this production, explained the plot.

"Joseph Pulitzer, the main antagonist in the show, he raises the price of papes, so that makes us not able to get enough money for our lives. That's the reason why the strike happens. We're not getting treated fair, so we're going to strike. Because if we won't work, how are they going to sell papers? So Jack and his friends Davey and Crutchie, we all go on strike, and along the way, there are some trials and tribulations that happen," Klena said.

The show has a little bit of something for everyone with ballads alongside tap numbers, and between the splits, flips and kicks of the newsboys, there's a love story.

"I fall in love with a girl named Katherine, spoiler alert," Klena said of Kelly's love interest in the show, Katherine Plumber.

Plumber is a journalist who covers the strike and helps to draw attention to the issue the newsies are facing.

"It's very important for society then, because these boys that were living on the streets, they didn't have any families, and they were basically just struggling to provide for themselves," Klena said. "They wanted to be treated as equals, and not be treated as just kids, not be treated as the vermin on the streets."

Watching the boys rally around Kelly shows the power of the movement; however, Kelly, who is later described in the musical as "the face of the strike," longs for the far away land of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he's heard that life is much more simple than it is in New York City.

"He's basically the leader of the newsies, and the brother and father figure for all the newsboys," Klena said about his character. "I live by a quote in my life, 'Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody,' and that's what I feel like Jack encompasses ... Through every single time he interacts with one of the other boys, he has a personal connection to each and every one of them, and that's what makes him the perfect hero and the perfect protagonist for this story."

The strong sense of conflict that Kelly feels, torn between the family he has built in New York and the promise of a fulfilling life far away, climaxes in one of the most powerful songs of the show, "Santa Fe." When asked about his favorite part of the show, Klena was quick to name "Santa Fe" as a top contender.

"Obvious answer could be 'Santa Fe,'" Klena said. "Because that's amazing, but also I think all the group numbers with the boys, 'World Will Know,' 'Seize the Day,' all the songs that really show the camaraderie, 'Carrying the Banner,' they really show the life of these kids, and that's what's important."

However, theater goers don't need to be a newsboy to relate to the themes of the show, Klena said.

"Everyone has a Santa Fe. Santa Fe is not just a place, it's a dream, it's like a safe haven, a light at the end of the tunnel. That's what Santa Fe means to me," Klena said. "The themes of the show are just family and brotherhood, and if you have a goal, don't be afraid to reach for it and don't let anything stand in your way because no matter what, the only person who can stop you from reaching your goal is yourself."

One newsie jumps into a split as his fellow newsies cheer.

"'Newsies' is fun for all ages, and it lets everybody know that no matter where they are in their life, no matter what problems may come about, or what things may stand in their way, to never stop trying to reach for your goals. It makes people believe that anything is possible if you just try and if you just go the extra mile, anything can happen," Klena said.

See Dillon Klena as Jack Kelly in "Newsies" June 22, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and June 23, at 2 p.m. at Pechanga Resort Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, in Temecula. For tickets, visit

"Newsies" is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Maggie Schmutz can be reached by email at [email protected]


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