Newsies Heads for Houston, Corsets and All

These news boys are up in the air about fair treatment from newspaper publishers.
These news boys are up in the air about fair treatment from newspaper publishers.
Photo by Deen van Meer

One plays a burlesque house owner; the other a reporter who's already made inroads in the business during the turn of a century that wasn't always real open to female journalists. Both characters are played by actresses who grew up in the Houston area and are now out and about on a national tour.

Another thing common to both Angela Grovey who plays Medda Larkin and Stephanie Styles who plays the reporter Katherine Plumber in the national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Newsies (brought here by Broadway Across America) is that they get to enjoy the delights of wearing a corset.

“I have a lot of respect for women who had to wear corsets for almost the entire day,” says Grovey, although she says she loves the costumes that cover the structured undergear.

Newsies, the Disney creation with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein, is set in 1899 at a time when publisher Joseph Pulitzer was enmeshed in newspaper wars with other titans and would-be industry leaders. Based on a true story, Newsies follows developments after the newsboys revolt, looking for better working conditions in New York City.

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Grovey, who grew up in Sugar Land and graduated from Elkins High (go Knights!) says she gets to tap into her maternal side as she delivers some hard truths to newspaper delivery boy Jack Kelly. Styles, who graduated from Bellaire-based Episcopal High (also go Knights!) is an amalgamation of two of the characters from the 1992 movie version that this musical was based upon. Describing her character she says: “She reviews shows for the New York Sun. She wants to tackle some meatier things.”

Both said the layers upon layers of costumes help them stay in character and step into another world. According to Styles, the cast breaks down into “newsies, oldsies and girlsies.” Styles, who won a Tommy Tune Award for The Drowsy Chaperone while at Episcopal, and Grovey, who was a Texas champion in Oratory and Dramatic Interpretations in debate competitions while in high school, will be bringing along local cheering sections from friends and families. So be prepared for a Texas-sized welcome home to both. But do it quickly; tickets are selling fast. 

Performances of Newsies are scheduled for May 19-24. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-315-2525 or visit $30-$145.

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