The 2017 8th grade musical is the lively and kid-powered production: Newsies. Taking place in the turn of the century New York, the underpaid and overworked paperboys went on strike. Though, it probably didn’t have as much perfectly choreographed dancing as the musical version.
The choice of musical has sparked controversy amongst the 8th grade. Some are incredibly excited to portray a grimy street urchin in the upcoming production, but others are not so spirited. Anne Hess, Jake Miller, Carla Childs, Mike Kern and Teri Gemberling-Johnson have worked incredibly hard on the production, and I personally am very excited. Auditions have just finished, and the roles are coming back at the end of winter break. I interviewed some 8th graders about their thoughts on the choice of Newsies, and I got these responses.
“It’s better than some of the previous ones, but it’s going to be difficult to get the story across in only 45 minutes.”
“I think it’s a good musical that the 8th grade is going to ruin.”
“It’s wonderful, lovely and I love it.”
“It’s a bad musical and I think they should have chosen anything else: Cats, Rent, an actually good musical.”
“Leah, shut up. I’m trying to do homework.”
On one hand, the musical choice seems grim. Many are frustrated that since some of it has to be cut out, and it won’t be a completely coherent production. Some students are not optimistic about the production because they do not believe in the good powers of the 8th grade. I asked some students about the 8th grade in general and I heard:
“Oh, no, we suck. Yeah, this grade is terrible. Especially [student’s name]. [Pronoun] is awful.”
“To quote Thumper the Rabbit: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
On the other hand, about 50% of the grade is incredibly excited. They are pleased we got a well-known play. Some of the past musicals have been more niche, and lots of students are ecstatic and relieved the chosen musical is one they have heard of before, and has even gotten it’s own Disney movie.
“I’M SO HAPPY WE GOT A GOOD ONE!”
“I really like Newsies.”
“I feel like with a bit of…discipline, we can have a decent musical.”