Newsies NowI've gotten a few requests to add articles about what the actors from Newsies think about the movie now that it's been out for 16 years. Well, considering no such articles exist, I figured I'd do the best I can on letting you know some information that I picked up from the newsies themselves.
I have been fortunate enough to have met 8 out of the 19 main newsies; David Sidoni (Pie Eater), Trey Parker (Kid Blink), Gabriel Damon (Spot Conlon), Michael Goorjian (Skittery), Christian Bale (Jack Kelly), Arvie Lowe Jr. (Boots), Dee Caspary (Snitch), and Marty Belafsky (Crutchy), as well as the director/choreographer of Newsies himself, Kenny Ortega. And I have watched Kevin Stea (Swifty) perform live, but haven't been fortunate enough to meet him yet. :( Ok, so I didn't exactly sit down with a pen and paper and interview the one's I've met, (haha, yea right) but I didn't pass up the chance to ask them some questions that I have had about Newsies, Blood Drips, and the actors themselves. I also added some more of what has become of the actors, and the set, since filming 16 years ago.
(If you want to know more about my Newsie-meeting experiences, you can check out my comics-- but they are very dramatized examples of the situations. haha)
David Sidoni (Pie Eater)
The first Newsie that I ever met was David Sidoni. My best friend and I met him at Disney's California Adventure on August 18th, 04. (I talked to him again elsewhere on May 29th, 05... but that's a different story.) Back in August, he worked as one of the "Regis"-type hosts for the Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Play it! game there in the park, and we had see him there several times before, but hadn't gotten the chance to actually talk to him until his last day at that attraction.
Of course, I ended up getting in the "hot-seat", just like in the real show, so after I lost on some dumb question, I went backstage of the soundstage with him. We talked a bit while we were in the back. Since he knew I was a Newsies freak, he told me some random story about him going to Ohio, and teaching the Seize the Day Chorale dance to some kids there. (dood, I know it too, I had to teach it for my Winterguard show... but that's beside the point...) So basically, I didn't get to ask him much because I was extrememly nervous, meeting my first newsie and all. But the main point is, since it was the last week for the Millionaire show, none of the cast members really cared about following the rules, and just played around and did whatever. It was really fun, and we got to see David Sidoni breakdance in the middle of the stage thing. haha It was classic. And now, since the show was cancelled, he moved on to work at some other shows in the Disney parks, such as the musical stage show of Aladdin where he had to sing and dance.
But the place I ran into him again at was a restaurant also in DCA. He was working as the "entertainer" and was dressed up in a ridiculous costume that he called "the clown," when it was really supposed to be a captain. ^^;; We were dressed equally as strange tho, like our Roundhouse characters, and he liked our outfits too. I showed him pictures of the other Newsies I had met since meeting him for the first time, and he said he was amazed to see how much they had all grown. He also told me he had seen Dominic Maldonado (Itey) and Mikki Duran (from Roundhouse) in a live show together not too long ago.
There is one thing I regret when I think about meeting David Sidoni. I wish I could have asked him why his newsies name was Pie Eater. For some reason, every time I see him I instantly forget. -_-;; But oh well, I'll probably run into him again sometime, and if not, there are plenty of other newsies out there.
Trey Parker (Kid Blink)
I met Trey Parker (for the first time) on November 11th, 04, at Disneyland when he was there performing with his band, the MVPs. I also went back to see him again on the 24th, and also in Vegas on March 18th, 05... but wait... that never happened (let's just say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas ^_~).... lol
Trey still has pretty much everything that he had in newsies; the amazing voice, the great dancing... Except since then, he has gained an eye, and lost some hair. (OK, sorry, that was a joke. haha I couldn't resist... He still has a lovely head of hair. Happy?) Him and his band sing a variety of types of music (all in which I love), so if you have a chance to go out and see them ever, it is free, wherever they may be that night. It is incredibly fun being able to just dance like a crazy person with your friends. haha
Ok, now on to what I actually talked to him about... Of course I brought up Blood Drips to him. (I wasn't going to wuss out like last time. lol) But the second I brought it up he said "How did you get to see that??" And I told him about how Michael Goorjian and his editor had found it in a box of old tapes, and sold it online because they thought it was still as hillarious as it was at the time. And I told him that I wasn't the only fan who had seen it... teehee
We also talked about his "death" in Blood Drips, which was quite funny to hear him talk about, and he told us that he was mad at himself for breaking character by smiling right before he died. And I didn't even notice until he brought it up........
So, like I said before, Trey is still extremely talented, he even did one of those "newsie-jumps" on stage for us. :)
Gabriel Damon (Spot Conlon)
I was so surprised that I actually met Gabriel Damon, after all, I have heard from several sources that he is very hard to get ahold of, and even at one point, was presumed dead. But don't worry kids, he is very, very much alive. :)
We met him on February 19th, 05, at the Hollywood Collecter's Show in Burbank. He was there signing autographs, and talking to people who wanted to know about his career. So obviously, since he was sitting at the same table all day, and since we had driven all the way there to see him, we got to talk to him alot. He was very nice and had a sarcastic sense of humor, which he used to pull on me several times. ^^;; I told him that many people had believed him dead, and he said that his mother had died a year before, and many people confused their names online. I felt really bad afterwords for asking him, but now you guys know HE'S NOT DEAD.
I told him that I had a site, and he asked me to set some online rumors straight for him. And I happily will. ;)
1. He said he has never put gum in anyone's hair (I guess people said he did this once on the set for a movie when he was mad...??)
2. He doesn't have a teddy bear named "Pear" that he carried around when he was little.
3. And the third, and most known rumor, his last name is actually Damon. Not Lidiey or Lidai or whatever people keep saying.
So now you are a little more educated about Gabe, because everyone seems to love him so and want to know all there is to know about him. And let me tell you, that is straight from the horse's mouth ladies and gentlemen, I did not make that stuff up. :)
I also asked him about the fabled movie Planet Ibsen that is said to be in post-production, and when it will actually be coming to theatres. He said that the movie was very independent and very low budget, so unfortunately, it only made the normal film-festival rounds, and would only (hopefully) be coming out on DVD someday.
And lastly, I asked him why he hadn't been in Blood Drips on Newsies Square. The funny thing is, he had no idea what I was even talking about! So, I explained to him what it had been about, and he said that it sounded like they had had fun on the set without him (lol) and he also said he would love to see it.
(And for all of you Spot-fanatics out there, we made him say "Never Fear, Brooklyn is here!" for us, and it was truly magical. teehee)
Michael Goorjian (Skittery)
The fourth Newsie that I met was Michael Goorjian. My best friend and I drove up to Santa Monica on April 24th, 05, to watch Illusion, a movie directed and starring Michael, at the Inspiration Film Festival at the Laemmle Theatre. The movie was absolutely amazing, and I wasn't the only one who agreed to that. Many people in the audience rated it a 5 out of 5, and almost everyone agreed that it should be shown in theatres worldwide, and should also be nominated for the "Best Independant Film" Oscar.
The movie took Michael and his crew a total of 4 years to film, and he had to film certain parts of it at a time in order to be sponsered enough money to film the next portion. My friend and I let him know that we loved the movie, and that we hope to see it in theatres someday.
Along with Michael and the rest of the cast and crew being there, I also had the chance to see his editor, who is also the same person who has been selling copies of Blood Drips on Newsies Square online. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to display my gratitude to him (because I was too busy doing... other things lol) But I think he realizes how much that movie means to us all. ^_~
We talked to Michael about Blood Drips, and how it had been the first movie he had directed... lol... and it made me realize that he was able to accomplish his goal of being a director over time, by using any resources he had, to film his first actual movie as director, Illusion.
We talked to him for a while about Newsies, and I showed him the pictures I have of us meeting the other newsies, and he too was surprised to see Gabe! I guess Gabriel supposedly dissapeared off of the face of the Earth after Newsies. (We really were lucky to have found him....) We talked to Michael a bit more about Blood Drips, and I finally had the chance to ask him something about the movie that I have been wondering a long time. Those of you who have seen the movie are familiar with the part where Micahel Goorjian is running away from Don Knott's car. Since the car isn't really moving, there are people holding bushes coming towards the car making it appear as if it is. I thought this was extremely hillarious (and it sounds dumb if you haven't seen it, but it really is funny), and I wanted to know who the bushes where. (haha yea, I'm a dork) He told me that from right to left they were, Max, Ivan, and the one going crazy on the left was Trey. He said the four of them had obviously been the most excited about filming Blood Drips, and that they had had a blast doing so. (He also told me that he still keeps in contact with Ivan and Mark!)
Michael Goorjian has an amazing and brilliant mind, from directing something as funny and clever as Blood Drips, to a movie as moving and incredible as the Illusion. I am glad that I had the chance to talk to him as long as I did, and I hope he has the chance to be in more films/continue directing, and I would love to go to more film festivals in the future. I love you Micahel Goorjian! Thanks so much for being such a great actor!!!!
Christian Bale (Jack Kelly)
On June 6th, 2005, I met Christian Bale. I went to the Hollywood Batman Begins premiere with a couple of my friends just to see him, but unfortunately, we didn't get a picture with him. It was too crazy, even though we were the first people there to line up to see him, but by the time he came, there were so many fans and it was truely chaotic. Alot of the people were there to see Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise tho... (and I got a little closer to Tom Cruise than I would have liked... lol) Luckily tho, I took over 200 pictures of just Christian with my dad's paparazzi-like camera (I will post them on this page later).
When he first got there, the crowd went crazy, and it was really fun and exciting, even though I had people practically sitting on top of me. While he was being interviewed, my friends and I started singing Santa Fe at the top of our lungs, and the people around us (obvious Newsie-lovers as well) joined in with us. During his interview, he pointed and laughed at us, and he also noticed the sign we were holding that said "Jack Kelly" in big letters. (I wouldn't be surprised if you can hear us singing Santa Fe in the background when they show the interview on TV sometime...)
Christian Bale took me by complete surprise. I was afraid that he would be one of those "hot shot" movie stars, that like lots of attention, but he really wasn't like that at all. He was really nice, and came over to his fans, and actually thought it was funny that we were singing to him. He also seemed more shy than some of the other stars that were there. He really didn't like the attention as much, and I once read somewhere that he would like to stay a low-key star, and not become too famous. I think that if most newsie fans had their way, they would hope the same thing.
Arvie Lowe Jr. (Boots)
On August 7th, 2005, my best friends and I went down to Oceanside to watch Arvie Lowe Jr. and his band (The Rayzing Sons) perform in a concert. It was a very interesting experience, and it made me realize just how much Arvie has changed since Newsies. He still sings (or screams, it depends on what you call it…lol), and he still dances, but other than that, he is completely different. For example, when I asked him to sign my “Newsies Banner” newspaper thing from back in ‘92, his friends were laughing at his interview. In the newspaper, it asked “What are your plans for the future?” and he had said “Invent computer technology.”…. So obviously, he isn’t inventing any computer technology now, he’s actually in a heavy metal rock/rap band. We all thought this was rather funny.
I also thought it was cute that there were a bunch of little girls there getting autographs from him because they recognized him from Lizzie McGuire (when he was Mr. Dig). And he seemed to not mind having to leave his friends to talk to his fans, and he was really nice about everything. (And he was very excited to hear that my friends and I had been in a Newsies themed Winterguard show.)
Arvie was a really nice guy (and funny too) and I’m really glad that I got the chance to meet him. (Oh, and his first CD is coming out this fall.) :)
Dee Caspary (Snitch)
On August 8th, the very next day after meeting Arvie, my friends and I drove the opposite direction from Oceanside up to Los Angeles to meet our next newsie, Dee Caspary. He was that head choreographer and also in charge of a week -long program called “The Shoot,” in which dancers (ranging from very young kids to teenagers about the same age as me) would come from all over the country to audition to be in a music video that he had choreographed. So it was basically like a dance convention, and we found the hotel that it was in (smack dab in the middle of busy LA), and we basically waited around until he was not in rehearsal to talk to him.
We didn’t have long to talk, because he was in an obvious rush, and I felt kind of bad for bothering him, but in the long run, I don’t think he minded at all. (I think he thought we were there participating in the music video thing too, but in a different class, because he said he’d “See us around.”)
So, it is obvious that he is still dancing, and now also a top choreographer as well. There is no doubt that he is very good, all of his training has paid off. It makes me happy to see newsies still doing what they love to do, and I’m glad to see he’s still dancing.
Marty Belafsky (Crutchy)
The eighth Newsie that I had the pleasure of meeting was Marty, on the 6th of September, 2005. We drove all the way into West Hollywood area, and almost risked our lives to do so. lol He was doing an act at the local comedy club, better known as “Improv” Comedy Club, and it was an experience I will never forget.
Marty is still very much the same. I could tell who he was the second I walked into the crowded club because he looks so much like he did thirteen years before. We watched several acts before it was time for him to go on. He was extremely funny, and definitely the funniest that we saw that night. (His whole act was on school supplies, dumb actresses, and there were also a few lewd jokes, but he was pretty clean for the most part.) The point is, he made us all laugh, and the entire room as well. (Many of the acts before had had absolutely no reaction from the audience.) He was also extremely animated while on stage, and he was referred to as an “Improv favorite.” We also learned that he went to Brown University which, according to my mom, must make him very smart. : )
Marty was surprised to see how much we like Newsies, and also very surprised that we drove all the way there just to see him. He apologized about us having to hear some of the “sex jokes” that he had been trying out for the first time that night. He actually seemed a bit shy in person, as opposed to the crazy guy we had seen on stage. ^^;; He was a really nice and funny guy when it comes down to it, and if you ever have the chance to go to one of his comedy shows, don’t pass it up!
Kevin Stea (Swifty the Rake)
It had been a very long time since my friends and I had seen a Newsie, but after just one night of searching, we found Kevin. (I actually ended up e-mailing him about meeting him sometime, and he wrote me back.) So on January 30th, 2008 (Christian's birthday) my friends and I went down to the Key Club on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood to watch him perform in the 9th annual Choreographer's Carnival (aka The Choreographer's Ball). Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet him, but we did get to watch him dance. And my GAWD it's amazing in person. :O His group performed to the song "Mad World" from Donnie Darko, and it was great. I'm really glad we got to see him dance, and let me tell you, he looked great for his age. (He is 37, but if I didn't already know I'd say he doesn't look a day past 30.)
The weirdest part of the entire night was the awards ceremony thing. I guess they give out an award to Hollywood’s choreographer of the year every year, and this year the winner was Adam Shankman, the director/choreographer of Hairspray. A bunch of the cast from Hairspray was actually there too. But they also introduced the winner of the award from last year, and it was... Kenny Ortega! (I'm guessing he won it for High School Musical last year.) He went up on stage and talked for a while, but we were all shocked that we got to see him too! It’s funny, the only times I’ve ever seen Kenny Ortega in person are when I run into him somewhere, like three years ago at Disneyland. (read about it below!) I guess the odds were pretty high that he’d be at this choreographer’s ball... but we still did not expect that!
So we went hoping to see Kevin, but left having seen both him AND Kenny. Wow. Our luck is amazing. So I don't feel so bad about not getting to talk to Kevin, because we got to see Kenny too. :D I know one day (and probably soon) I'll get to meet Kevin in person. I reeeeeeeeeeally hope so. He seems like a great guy. :)
Kenny Ortega (Director/Choreographer of Newsies)
Probably the weirdest newsie-experience I've ever had happened on June 11th, 2005. My best friend and I were sitting on a bench in the middle of Disneyland's Fronteir land, when Kenny Ortega randomly walked up to us and started talking to us. I was wearing my Newsies Winterguard shirt, so he asked me if I liked the movie. It took me a second to register who he was (because he looks a tad different than he did back in '92) but when I realized it was him, both me and my friend started screaming like freaks. I think he was surprised that we knew who he was, and I have a feeling that we made his day. :)
I told him that I had seen Blood Drips and he kind of laughed and said that the Newsies were messing around one day and made it for fun. I told him about the newsies I had met, and he was surprised to hear that I had met Gabe and Christian. His friend also told us that Kenny will be directing a new movie soon, which will also be Disney, and that it's going to be another musical about high school aged kids. How exciting! Hopefully it'll be zesty like Newsies!!
(And of corse, we now all know that that movie ended up being the ever famous "High School Musical.")
The Newsies Set
Along with meeting some of the actors, I've also had the chance to visit the actual set of the movie several times. Well, part of the set that is. Newsies was filmed at several locations in Southern California, including an old theatre in Hollywood, a pier in Long Beach, a street at Disney Studios, and other extranious places. But most of the movie was shot at the Universal Studios, Hollywood, backlot. And believe it or not, the set is still there. Although it has been painted over several times, and used for other movies, it still remains, and it is easy to tell that it is the Newsies old New York streets. If you are to go to Universal Studios, you actually get to take a tram ride through the center of it, but you do have to resist the temptation to jump off and go dancing through the streets. :)