November 17-29, 2015
Hotspots Exclusive Interview with Aisha de Haas by Scott Holland
The entire creative team behind the Broadway musical Newsies has reunited to bring the break-out smash musical to audiences across North America, and will begin performances at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, November 17 for a limited engagement of
two weeks through Sunday, November 29. Newsies will play Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., Wednesday, November 25 at 2 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 1 p.m.
Newsies features a Tony Award-winning score with music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, a book by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein and is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions. Newsies is directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, who won a 2012 Tony Award for his work.
Set in New York City at the turn of the century, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies,’ who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right.
Newsies is inspired by the real-life ‘Newsboy Strike of 1899,’ when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long action against Pulitzer, Hearst and other powerful newspaper publishers.
The stage version introduces seven brand-new songs by the original team of Menken and Feldman, including a song written specifically for the tour called ‘Letter from the Refuge,’ while keeping many of the beloved songs from the film, including ‘Carrying the Banner, ‘Seize the Day,’ ‘King of New York’ and ‘Santa Fe.’
It was a pleasure to sit down with Aisha de Haas, who plays Medda Larkin, for this mini-interview.
At what age did you begin singing?
I joined a choir, the Chicago’s Children’s Choir, when I was 8 years old.
What was your first professional gig?
My first professional show was Little Shop of Horrors, an Alan Menken show.
Which role has been your favorite to play and why?
My first was the singer in “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.” It was such a dynamic role and it was my first Broadway show. I also loved playing Effie in “Dreamgirls” for the journey she takes, and the Moon in “Caroline or Change.”
You have sung backup for one of our generation’s most iconic singers, Oleta Adams. Tell me about that experience.
It was amazing and it was early in my career. I was born in New York, but we moved to Chicago when I was six. In 1997, I moved back to New York, and in 1998 I began singing with Oleta. I sang with her for 12 years, traveling throughout the US and the Netherlands. She is just a really good egg and so down to earth. She has one of the most soulful voices of the last few generations. It was a true treat to sing with her.
What do you bring to the part of Medda Larkin?
I bring a kind of warmth. She is sort of a mother figure to Jack. She gives him a sanctuary, and she really understands him as she pulled herself up from nothing. The character is loosely based on a real Vaudevillian performer. I bring a lot of knowledge of her history and the style of woman she was and the hardships she had to go through to get where she is.
What should South Florida audiences expect out of this touring company of Newsies?
This touring company is fantastic. In my opinion, we have infused a whole new energy into the show. Whenever you bring in new people (five of the main characters are played by new actors), there are new interactions and it awakens the rest of the cast to be more keen and aware.
I think that I am really amazed about how acrobatic and athletic these boys are, with eight shows a week and the amount of energy and passion they all bring to their roles. I think the South Florida audience will love them and I look forward to this next year touring with them.
Tickets start at $35 per person and are available at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Box Office, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.browardcenter.org or call 954-462-0222. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling 954-660-6307.
The Fort Lauderdale engagement of Newsies is presented by arrangement with Broadway Across America, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and Florida Theatrical Association and is a subscription offering of the Bank of America Broadway in Fort Lauderdale 2015-2016 Series.
To purchase tickets to Newsies, visit browardcenter.org or call 954-462-0222.