After weeks of preparation, the students of Midlothian Heritage High School are days away from presenting "Newsies" the musical.

The show opens Jan. 31 with a private showing to fifth graders and public showings from Feb. 1-3 at the Heritage High School Cafetorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students.

Based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, a local cast of newsboys will soon fight Joseph Pulitzer after he raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense.

Theatre director Amy Brown said they picked the show because it was well known and wanted to show the world of journalism in the coming-of-age story.

“We wanted to do something that was fun and well-known,” she said and added that the students loved the idea of doing the show.

The cast of nearly 130 students — including crew, chorus, kids chorus and dancers — is one of the largest the program has seen, Brown noted.

“The kids are doing amazing and we’re pulling it together,” she said.

With the size of the show, the theatre program partnered with the dance team and the choir department, Brown explained.

On a Tuesday afternoon, the high school staff rehearsed Act 1, the first of two acts in the two-and-a-half-hour show. Dozens of students, clad in their school clothes, followed Brown’s direction as they added choreography 10 days before opening night.

“Here is what I want you to do,” Brown said as she walked toward the stage decked with bare wooden sets.

She had the cast include two points as they belted their lines.

“And the world will know,” they sang with the added point to the lights. “And the Journal, too.”

Once she was happy with the performance, the cast repeated the scene to solidify the moves and went on to the next scene.

For some like Jacob Graham, this is the first show they have acted in. Graham, 18, plays Joseph Pulitzer, the role he wanted from the beginning.

He said he wanted to have a chance to play the villain, and is glad his friend made him audition.

Lexi Hughes, who plays Katherine a reporter who helps the newsboys, said she loves the brotherhood of the newsboys.

“In this show, the ensemble is really the heart of the show,” she added.

As the cast of newsboys on stage rehearsed, the dance team practice in the hallways.

“That’s what makes this show,” Ashlyn Putman, 17, said about the collaboration of departments to make the show happen.

Putman plays Hannah, Pulitzer’s secretary, and has been in shows before this one since being a part of the show choir.

“We are going to surprise a lot of people,” she said.

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Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty

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