Shane Hall knows what it is like to be performing at a young age. At 7, he had key roles in “Oliver” and “Peter Pan” at the Springer Opera House.
As director of “Disney’s Newsies The Broadway Musical,” which begins a four-week run Friday at the Springer, Hall is working with numerous young people. Counting rotating youth ensembles, there are more than 50 cast members in the popular show.
Some, including the lead performers Ethan Hall and Victoria Nicholson, are students at Columbus State University. Many are younger.
The director, also the show’s choreographer, is owner of Prodigy Dance Centre in Columbus. Hall has performed professionally in several productions in New York City where he is currently doing some work and training. He has directed “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” at the Springer.
In Newsies, he has two boys, Schley Smallman, a fifth grader, and Ty Eldridge, a seventh grader, sharing a key role of Les Jacobs.
“I have a fairly young cast and many actors who are just now diving into their careers within this industry,” Hall said. “Some are in college studying this art form and developing their craft and many who are still in grade school anticipating a life as a professional performer. All of these people are looking at me as a source of guidance.”
Hall said he wants to have an “impact” on the young performers and make them “want to do this more.”
He remarked that there is a lot of music for the performers, young and old, to learn for this show.
Newsies is a musical adapted for Broadway from a 1992 Disney film “Newsies.”
Hall calls it a great family show, one “known for big lavish dance numbers.”
On Broadway, this story of the 1899 newsboys strike in New York City, was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won two.
The music is by Alan Menken, who wrote the scores for the films “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”
The lyrics are from Jack Feldman, who has worked on songs in films including “Oliver and Company.” He wrote the lyrics for the Barry Manilow hit song “Copacabana.”
Ethan Hall plays Jack Kelly the leader of the strike. The CSU junior is no stranger to the stage having played in “Beauty and the Beast” and “Grease” at the Springer and several CSU productions such as “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Rocky Horror Show.”
He is excited about his first lead at the Springer.
“It is a true blessing to be in school and to be able to act in a historic theater such as the Springer,” he said. “Newsies is just a great show. It is a story about brotherhood, a story about orphans who have nothing but each other. It is really inspiring.”
He called work on the show “emotionally and physically demanding.”
Victoria Nicholson, a junior at CSU, plays Katherine Plummer, a young reporter who sees a chance to prove herself with coverage of the strike.
“She is inspired by the boys,” Nicholson said.
And, she added, the boys see her as a way to make change happen.
There is no Disney princess in this story but Nicholson says Plummer has the same characteristics as many of them or of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Katherine is very strong willed and intelligent,” Nicholson said.
Ready for her first Springer lead, Nicholson is familiar with the Springer. This is her sixth production. A couple of the shows in which she has had a role include “A Chorus Line” and “Grease.”
Other key cast members are Tyler Sarkis, Ed Biggs, Joey Goldman and Beth Reeves.
The director says this cast has a lot of talent and has shown “great spirit.”
Conductor for the orchestra will be Paul Vaillancourt of CSU.
If you go
What: Disney’s Newsies The Broadway Musical
Where: Springer Opera House, 103 10th St. in Columbus
When: Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3, 10, 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adult tickets are $45. Tickets for seniors, educators, military, public safety workers $38, tickets for students $20.