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'Newsies' musical opens this weekend

Tri-Valley Rep show begins three-week run at Bankhead

The fight for fairness on the job will be making the headlines throughout the show, as the cause of 1890s paper boys in New York comes to life through song and dance in Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre's summer musical, "Newsies."

Debuting this weekend, the local production directed by Carol Hovey and starring Tommy Lassiter is poised for a three-weekend run at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

"Set in turn-of-the century New York City, 'Newsies' is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged newsies. When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys' expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what's right," Tri-Valley Rep officials said.

"'Newsies' was inspired by the real-life two-week strike by newsboys in 1899, led by Kid Blink, against the powerful newspaper publishers of the time, including William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. It addresses themes of social justice, exploitative child labor practices and fighting the establishment," they added.

The stage musical, which made its debut on Broadway in 2012, was inspired by the film musical of the same name released by Disney 20 years earlier. The play version featured music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein (based on the film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White).

The Broadway rendition ran for more than 1,000 performances before touring. It won Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Choreography, as well as earned a Best Musical nomination, in 2012.

The Tri-Valley Rep production features Lassiter in the lead role of Jack Kelly and includes other performers such as Kyle Herrera as Davy, Melissa Momboisse as Katherine and Ashley Forney as Medda.

Supporting director Hovey are choreographer Meghan Hornbacker, vocal director Sierra Dee Rankin, stage manager and assistant director Brian Olkowski, and producer Kathleen Breedveld.

The show runs on weekends from July 16-31 at the Bankhead. Performances are Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. -- in addition to a special 2 p.m. matinee show on the final Saturday, July 30. For tickets, visit livermorearts.org.