The musical had a three-show run and stunned audiences

NORTH COUNTY — Applause Children’s Theater (ACT) performed a three-show run of Disney’s “Newsies Jr.” over the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11. The production featured 28 talented children from all over the North County. The production was ACT’s first advanced performer’s show, featuring their older actors. The show was directed by Vikky Mullin and guest director Casey Biggs, who has racked up credits as an actor in both television, film, and theater. Paso Robles Press was in the audience for the final performance of “Newsies Jr.,” just like the reporter character of Kathrine Plumber. 

“You’re in for a treat. I sat right here last night, and I was riveted,” said Pastor Guy Drummond of the Christian Life Center, where the production took place. “To see students, I know they’re acting, but it’s hard to tell.” 

Disney’s “Newsies” first came onto the scene as a movie musical starring a young Christian Bale as lead Jack Kelly back in 1992. The film was loosely based on the New York City Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 and featured an amazing catalog of music from Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman. Newsies got a second life in 2012 when a musical version featuring additional songs and characters debuted on Broadway. The musical featured Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly and played 1,000 performances before it started touring. “Newsies” was even on the West End in London for the 2022-23 season. Both the film and the musical have become favorites for many.


“It was amazing. It was a dream come true. This has been my favorite Broadway show since I was seven. It’s been really great finally being able to play my dream role,” said actress Quinn Thurman, who played Plumber. “It was really great to be Kathrine. She’s just this awesome reporter, and she’s also fighting for her rights alongside the newsies, and I just love this character.”

The amazingly talented cast, who all had vocals for days, consisted of 28 of the North County’s up-and-coming actors and actresses. It featured Diego Porras as Jack Kelly, Kaia Cross as Crutchie, Ayla McDonald as Davey, CeCe Bausch as Les, Quinn Thurman as Kathrine Plumber, Ben Hasch as Mr. Pulitzer, Joseph Lagattuata as Mr. Wiesel, Callaway and Parker Handley as the Delancy Brothers, and Charlotte Bailey as Miss Medda Larkson. The ensemble was rounded out by the talents of Jacy Miller, Violet Luera, Madison McCrain, Maggie Arndt, Mika Pirozzi, Jackson Dineen-Knoll, Ava Main, Annabelle Collins, Fiona Locke, Lillyana Denton, Madison Grennan, Delaney Dineen-Henry, Kayla Bournonville, Chloe Bournonville, Iris Hernandez, Shane Mullinix, Asher Moore, Danika Nutile, and Mike Pirozzi as Theodore Roosevelt.

“It was amazing, magical, truly. I had an amazing time. What a great group of people. Miss Vikky and our guest director, Casey Biggs, learned a lot from him and from her. Overall, it was just a blast being here with people I love doing the thing I love,” said Diego Porras (Jack Kelly), a freshman at Templeton High. 

Though the “Jr.” version of “Newsies” cut the storyline down, most notably the love story between Jack Kelly and Kathrine Plumber, to turn the full-length musical into an hour-and-a-half production without an intermission, the cast knocked it out of the park. The actors used their time on stage to blow the audience out of their seats with professional-sounding vocals, loads of wit, and a whole bunch of heart.  

“Being a part of the production was really fun. It was nice because our production didn’t take up a lot of time, so it was kind of a short play that we condensed, and it was really fun and energetic, and it was just nice,” said Kaia Cross (Crutchy), a freshman at Paso Robles High. “It felt like a whole family of newsies, honestly. Just being up there on stage all energized. Playing Crutchy was really fun. I feel like I found my inner little kid almost.”

ACT isn’t done with its 2023 theater season — you can catch its next production, “A Charlie Brown Christmas Review,” on Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Christian Life Center. To buy tickets, go to:

Feature Image: The talented young cast of Applause Children’s Theater’s production of Newsies Jr. Photo by Rachel Bausch Photography