by Ben Schrager. Instagram: @ben.schrager. Twitter: @ben_schrager.
SANTA FE, NM. – After finishing his fourth performance of the day as Jack Kelly, touring actor Jimmy Montrese reportedly began to suspect that the non-union tour of Newsies he was currently on might be missing the point.
“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something feels off with this production,” said Montrese, while striking lights from the top of an unattended ladder. “But don’t get me wrong, I still love doing this show. The whole team is one big family - so much so that we even share beds whenever we’re lucky enough to have an overnight stay.”
Michael Honeycutt, the actor playing Crutchie, understands his castmate’s concerns, but finds inspiration in the show’s message.
“I really love this concept in Newsies called ‘unions.’ I wish they existed in real life,” said Honeycutt, while trying to wash his walking boot. “I broke my leg trying to unload the set in Bayonne, and the producers wanted to leave me by the side of the road, but the rest of the cast convinced them that it would make my performance more authentic. I may be in excruciating pain all the time, but thanks to my castmates, I’m still able to go out there and give it my all 15 shows a week. That’s what it means to Seize the Day.”
Some of the child actors feel differently. Andrew Felton, a 10-year old in the Newsie chorus and the show’s unofficial fight captain, expressed frustration with his adult castmates.
“The bourgeois pig producers are exploiting our labor and we are the ones with the power to halt production through collective action and to demand fairer wages through collective bargaining,” said Felton, while applying street urchin makeup. “But every time I start to explain this to them, they think I’m just getting into character for the show. Hell, Michael doesn’t even realize that unions exist in real life. He thinks they’re a fictional idea created by Harvey Fierstein for dramatic effect. I honestly don’t know how he gets dressed every morning.”
“Andrew’s very cute with how seriously he takes the show,” Michael responded. “But how would unions even work in real life? We refuse to do the show until labor standards improve? It just doesn’t seem reasonable.”
At time of reporting, Michael had tested positive for Covid, but was still preparing to go on, as he had used up his one and a half sick days addressing his broken leg.