Fan Day Recap

Downtown Milburn, NJ,  home of the Paper Mill Playhouse,
literally carrying the banner. 
The Paper Mill Playhouse was incredibly accommodating during the Newsies run, and one of the most amazing things they managed to do for the fans was to invite the creators and actors from the original film to participate in a "fan day." Even though technically Fan Day activities were surrounding the evening performance, I went to the matinee as well. As I expected, the crowd was full of "Fansies" and very vocal in their appreciation of the show, which really seemed to amp up the cast. By the time the matinee let out, there were already groups of fans milling around the theater, waiting for the special fan reception and talk back to begin. I actually left for a little while to grab some tea at a Starbucks down the street, and by the time I got back Radio Disney was all set up and ready to go. It didn't take long for a large group of girls and guys of all ages to fill the lobby and outdoor areas in anticipation of the event.  I hung around Radio Disney for a while, cause I am a trivia nerd and you don't live an hour away from Walt Disney World your whole life and not know a thing or two about the Mouse (his name was Mortimer lady, not Steamboat Willy...sheesh). It was cute they were there, and surprisingly some of their actual age demographic was in attendance, so it worked out pretty well for the tweens  who came out for the show. I'll admit, I didn't take as many pictures as I should have of the ambiance. I really wanted to document the event, but I just didn't. In true Disney fashion, I got caught up in the nostalgia and forgot to be a grown up. 

The gorgeous grounds at Paper Mill. There's a stream back there
and a koi pond (as we've seen in behind the scenes videos with the
stage Newsies). I enjoyed my time at this theater.
Anyway, here is a picture from another day that shows you the outside of the Paper Mill. Gorgeous grounds they have there, with a beautiful serene atmosphere and the theater itself is very comfortable. 

So anyway, it comes time to start moving the fans with the golden tickets (not actually golden) to the mezzanine lobby area for the reception. We had been told there would be drinks and snacks, and there were, though I didn't see a single person eat or drink a thing because it was so unbelievably crowded a person could barely mingle let alone eat a piece of cake. I did mention to one of the Paper Mill people that it appeared that they didn't quite realize what this event was going to be. They pitched a lovely reception where you could mix and mingle with other fans and the film actors and creators. I imagine they pictured civilized adults sipping wine and having very classy conversations. In reality, it was a mad rush to meet every single movie Newsie in attendance and get an autograph and a photo with them before someone barged in to break up the party. It was a race. You have one hour to meet all the Newsies in the room, but we won't tell you where they are standing, and you'll have to learn to see through walls. GO! Thankfully, Newsies fans are very friendly and helpful, so when I found myself getting disoriented and unable to see over the heads of so many people, I would just say "Which way is Les?" and someone would surely point me in the right direction with a giant smile. 

David Sidoni (Pie Eater)
My movie cast adventure begins with David Sidoni, who if you don't recognize from Newsies, you should remember from Nickelodeon's awesome SNICK show called Round House. David played a supporting Newsie named Pie Eater, and he gets a few close ups in the movie which he jokes about in the cast talk back later that evening. He did tell me he definitely gets more questions about Round House than anything else. He was fun to talk to and seemed genuinely excited to reminisce with fans. I wish I could have stayed with him longer, but I had half a dozen Newsies to meet and not a lot of time to do it, so I thanked him and quickly moved to my next target. 

Kevin Stea (Swifty the Rake)
Kevin Stea, who is an amazing dancer and played another supporting Newsie "Swifty the Rake," had a huge following in attendance. They were so excited to spend time with him that I only spent a brief moment in his company, just long enough to get a picture. He was a total sweetheart, and really hilarious. After a random fan in the room snapped one picture of us, he suggested one more with "model poses." He used to model... I clearly never have, though I feel as though my Blue Steel is about ready for the runway. 

Arvie Lowe, Jr. (Boots)
After Kevin, I turned a corner and right there in front of me, surrounded by an excited group of girls, was Arvie Lowe, Jr., who played Boots. Now, I don't know about other fans, but whenever I say "Boots" I say "Booooots!" I managed to not embarrass myself ridiculously with Arvie, though we did joke about the distinct lack of black actors in the show, despite the poster and other marketing materials featuring one. He had a great sense of humor, and I swear doesn't look like he has aged at all. 

Shon Greenblatt (Oscar Delancey)
I had to work my way back through the crush of people in order to get to the first of both Delancey brothers who made it to the event. Let me tell you something about these men... they are some of the nicest guys you will ever meet, and of all the Newsies there were probably the most changed compared to what they looked like in the movie. The first one I could weasel my way up to (get it?) was Shon Greenblatt who played Oscar.  Shon was really fun to talk to, and he suggested we try to look tough in our photo. I obviously need some acting lessons as well as modeling lessons. These days Shon is married with kids, who were there with him. If I am remembering correctly he introduces his son to the crowd at the talk back and says he just watched Newsies for the first time that morning. Carrying the banner for new generations! Shon was genuinely cool. It would have been nice to have more time to chat.

David Sheinkopf (Morris Delancey)
 I didn't immediately move to Morris Delancey because I had no idea where he was standing, and like I said - the Delancey brothers were the hardest to recognize (for me at least) so I scanned the room, but really had no idea what I was looking for. I ended up finding David Sheinkopf after the talk back. I honestly don't remember if I asked him anything in particular, but I am sure I thanked him for coming and explained how wonderful it is for the fans that they were there. Again, these Newsies actors love to make faces in photos! 

Paper Mill cast members at Fan Day... and me.
As I continued the make my way through the crowd, I saw a good chunk of the stage cast hanging out on the steps, so I had to run over and get a picture. I love these guys, and they were just as excited to be at the reception as the fans were. They ARE fans themselves, and you can see it in the quality of their performances. It's a great group of people, and I particularly have to single out little Vincent who was Les in the evening performances. His comedic timing was excellent. The kid got some of the biggest laughs every time I saw the show. I think I told a few of the guys how many times I had seen the show, and at that point it was only around 8 or so... still impressive. I hope I didn't scare them too much! 
Kara Lindsay and Jeremy Jordan (Katherine and Jack)
Speaking of the stage cast, I was milling around waiting to talk to David Moscow (Davey) and I saw Kara Lindsay and Jeremy Jordan come up the steps... well. Seeing as I was in total fan girl mode by this point, I had no problem stopping them right at the top of the steps to ask for a photo. There's a lot of talent in that picture. Kara's great and she pretty much looks like a Disney character come to life. Her voice is the same way. I think you'll really enjoy her. I don't have to go into detail about Jeremy. At least not again. (Check out the Jack Kelly section of this blog for more on Jeremy). 

David Moscow (David Jacobs)
Ah Davey. I will admit, I was pretty shocked to hear David Moscow was coming to Fan Day, but I am really glad he did. I can't remember a thing I said to David, and I absolutely love how terrified I look in this photo, but I can say he was really great with the fans and signed a ton of autographs. When the whole day was wrapping up after the performance let out, I bumped into David outside where I asked about his current projects, and profusely thanked him for being a part of this unbelievable day. I think a lot of these actors haven't had this much attention paid to them in decades, so it must have been insane to all of a sudden be the hottest ticket in the room. Maybe not for David as much since he still pops up in movies, but for the other guys you could definitely tell they were reliving some glory days. I, personally, would fully support a Newsies themed convention of some kind, but I am a huge nerd. 
Gabriel Damon (Spot Conlon)
I watched a lot of girls flip their shit when Gabe Damon (Spot Conlon) showed up. A van pulled up outside the Paper Mill before the event and when he got out I think some girls beside me were on the verge of tears. I love the guy too, so I was not ashamed when I walked up to him at the reception and asked for a hug. Those eyes! Come on, girls... dreamy sigh with me. In probably one of my more geeky moments I tried to explain to Gabe how all the fans had been commenting all day at how "You look just like yourself!" I don't think he got it, but he sure did smile politely at me. As I thanked him for being there he posed for a picture and then I was on my way. Actually, by that time it was getting very close to talk back time and people were being asked to wrap it up and head into the mezzanine seats so they could start. 

Thanks, TwitterNewsies - whoever you are!

Our movie Newsies posing for a photo at the talk back. 
I didn't video the talk... hindsight being 20/20, but someone standing almost directly in front of me did. I know this because I can hear myself laughing in her video, as well as my emphatic "Take it to Broadway, please!" at the end of it all. The stage Newsies seemed to really appreciate that moment of reckless abandon. Fans didn't get to ask any questions at the talk back, but the actors from the movie and the stage musical all told great stories. The movie writers were there, as well as Kenny Ortega the movie's director. It was just a great time. I wish it had been a little better organized, because at times it was hard to see who was talking (there were a lot of people crammed into a tiny space), but it was fantastic. There were cell phones and cameras in the air the entire time, and even the movie cast had their phones out to capture some of the moments. I think it's been a while since a lot of them were in a room with that many screaming fans. You can watch small clips of the talk back from various angles on YouTube, but many thanks to the fan who uploaded the whole thing. 

Luke Edwards (Les Jacobs) and Arvie again. 
When the talk back was over I finally managed to track down Luke Edwards who played Les. He was so quiet and polite. I was sort of more excited to meet "The Wizard" than Les, but really pretty stoked about both (by the way, The Wizard totally holds up as a great movie - go watch it again). Arvie was hanging around too, so I was ok being in a Newsie sandwich for a photo. That wrapped up the reception/talk back part of Fan Day for me. Then it was time to take our seats for the show. 

I'll tell you, the energy that night was fantastic, and during intermission the movie Newsies took even more pics with people who recognized them. They were all super accommodating and honestly looked like they were having a great time. An older man and women sitting behind me in the orchestra tapped me on the shoulder during intermission to ask what exactly was going on; they had never seen or heard an audience like this one. They asked if there was some sort of club or group in the audience who knew the actors. I said no, they just happened to be lucky enough to get tickets on Fan Day. They were actually very pleased they came that night, and seemed overwhelmingly impressed with the support the audience was showing for the production. I believe they were Paper Mill patrons who see shows there often. I am glad we could enhance their experience that night! 

When the show ended, the movie Newsies joined the stage cast on stage for a final bow. It was really a once in a lifetime experience and I can't tell you how happy I am to have been a part of it. The Paper Mill Playhouse did a fantastic job the entire run of the show keeping the fans up to date and informed, and I have to commend them for having the creative motivation to do something like Fan Day. It was absolutely appreciated by every fan in that audience, and I am sure the cast and crew of both productions. ♥