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    Today I had the pleasure of speaking with actor Jacob Kemp about his role in Newsies, which is coming soon to Louisville as a part of Broadway Across America.

    “After seeing my first play at age 3, I knew that I wanted to be an actor, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend my life in pursuit of what I love most,” Kemp recounts. Jacob Kemp had his first professional job at age 11 at the Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston. He is currently balancing two projects, performing as Davey in Newsies and as Kris on the #1 new comedy in America ABC’s Black-ish. “Telling stories is my life’s work and my deepest ambition, and it ignites my greatest passion and my most profound joy,” he explains.  

    The stage production of Newsies is based on a live-action Disney movie of the same name. The movie was considered a flop when it was released in the ‘90s, but the play has been a Tony Award-winning success. According to Kemp, “Newsies takes place at the turn of the century in New York City, and it tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, who is a charismatic newsboy and the leader of a ragged band of teenage newsies. He dreams of a better life, far away from the hardships of the streets, but, when these publishing titans of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise the distribution price at the newsboys own expense, the character Jack finds a cause to fight for. He rallies the newsies from across New York City to fight for what they believe in.” On his character, “I play Davey who is the newest newsboy. He is sort of the lens through which you see the story. He is actually a little bit of a brainiac, and his idea sparks the idea to create a newsboy union.” The story is inspired by real-life events, the Newsboy Strike of 1899. According to Kemp, this is an all-ages show with a great moral. “Everyone can walk away from this experience of seeing a group of people rallying together to fight for something that they believe is right no matter what the consequences,” he stated proudly.

    If you’re a fan of the movie, but you’ve never seen the play, there are a few differences. Kemp explains, “The stage version actually introduces seven brand new songs by the original team of Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, while keeping the beloved songs from the film… There are also a series of new characters that are introduced in order to help the story play out in a more effective way on stage as opposed to in a film.” According to Kemp, the “die-hard” fans of the film don’t seem to mind these adjustments. He said that most welcome the changes as new source of inspiration.

    Newsies won the Tony Award in 2012 for Best Choreography, so it seemed imperative to ask how long it takes to learn the choreography. The answer is surprising! It takes only three weeks of studio rehearsals with small changes being made during the show’s “preview period.” “These dancers are some of the best dancers in the country,” he explains. Kemp’s favorite dance number is “King of New York.”

    Any time I get the chance to interview an actor with Broadway Across America, I like to ask for their advice for aspiring actors. Louisville is full of talent, and I feel like their words can be a source of inspiration. Kemp told me he has a quote on his dressing room wall by Winston Churchill. It simply says, “Never, never, never, never give up,” and I think that says it all.

    Tickets are still available and start at just $28. The production will run from November 18th through the 23rd with evening and matinee performances. For ticket information, click here to be redirected to the Kentucky Center’s website. For more information about Newsies and other Broadway Across America shows coming to Louisville, visit their site at louisville.broadway.com.

    The infamous Jack Kelly (center) and Jacob Kemp as Davey (right) standing behind his little brother.

    Headshot and production photo provided by Matthew Porter of Broadway Across America.

    Jenna Foster's picture

    About Jenna Foster

    Hi! My name is Jenna. I am a music teacher at a primary school. I love teaching because you get to feel like a rockstar without all the fuss of being famous. My hobbies include cosplay, reading, music, traveling, and collecting vintage clothes and records.

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