It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three years since Newsies, the beloved tale of Jack Kelly and his crew of newsboys striking for their rights, closed on Broadway. Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, Newsies struck the hearts of many and created a fansie phenomenon that remains strong to this day.
Just like it’s fan base, Newsies has continued to live on with its first national tour and a filmed production that is now available for download. That’s not all: newsboys are now flipping their way into regional theaters all over the country, most recently at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri. Among the tap-tastic cast is Daniel Quadrino in the role of Crutchie.
Quadrino’s journey with Newsies has been nothing short of amazing. He originally auditioned for the pre-Broadway production at Paper Mill Playhouse, making it to final callback before being cut. “I didn’t end up getting it, which was fine. Looking back on it, I wasn’t ready to be part of it yet. My dancing was not ready maturity wise.” he tells me during his lunch break on his final day of tech before opening at The Muny.
Far from giving up, Quadrino continued to audition for the musical as it transferred to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre in 2012. A lesson in persistence and perseverance, he auditioned upwards of 20 times before booking it. Each time he was the cut, the show’s creative team continued to encourage him and motivate him to work harder. “They kept giving me feedback on what to work on, but the last time I went in I was like, ‘You know what? If this doesn’t happen, maybe I’m just not supposed to be in Newsies and I have to accept that.’ As soon as I let that go and stopped putting all that pressure on myself that I had to get the job, it happened.”
His final audition for the Broadway production is one that he’ll never forget.
“When I got the job, they called me back into the room after my final callback…and they were like, ‘We just have one more question. How would you like to be in Newsies?’ And I broke down and just started crying” Quadrino recalls, joy filling his voice.
Taking on the role of Albert while understudying Davey and Crutchie, Quadrino’s 11 months in the show were nothing short of spectacular. “My first performance was a blur, but it was definitely a dream come true.”
After the show’s closing, Quadrino’s career brought him roles in Wicked and NBC’s Peter Pan Live!, but his time with Newsies wasn’t over quite just yet.
This summer, Quadrino has had the pleasure of reprising the role of Crutchie twice: with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in July and now at The Muny.
The fact that I get to play a role that is so close to my heart that was truly one of my dream roles is incredible,” he exclaims. “I love getting to do Crutchie’s song, ‘Letter From the Refuge,’ that was added because it was fun knowing Crutchie, but having new material to work on and make my own was really fun.
In the midst of musical theatre excellence, Quadrino is soaking in each moment with his crutch and gang of newsboys. “This group of boys is incredible; I’m in awe of watching them dance. Jay Armstrong Johnson, who is playing Jack, is so great and has a fresh new take on the Jack Kelly that we all know, which is so good. The whole cast is just so, so good. And it’s cool because I do know the show so well, but I kind of rerouted everything that I know and started from scratch to find Crutchie again.”
Especially now, with the current political and social state of the country, Quadrino is thrilled to be sharing this story with The Muny’s 11,000 seat house. “It’s really cool because it’s a whole new take on the show, but it still stays true to all the themes. It stays true to what the show is about: a bunch of people standing up to what is right. The story is so relevant and I’m so happy that we’re doing it here at the Muny this year with everything going on. I think that it will forever be relevant, and the fact that it will be in front of this many people is amazing.”
Looking back on his long path with Newsies and the persistence he showed over 20 times, Quadrino’s words of advice for his younger self are short, yet potent. “I always tell people this: it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, but when.”
For more information about The Muny’s current production of Newsies, visit www.Muny.org.