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BWW Interviews: DAN DeLUCA Talks Jack Kelly and NEWSIES

Actor/singer Dan DeLuca has many regional stage credits that include Danny in Stephen Schwartz's Snapshots (Goodspeed), Lucas in The Addams Family (Muny), and Gabe in Next to Normal (Weston Playhouse). New York credits include: Cain/Japheth in Children of Eden (CAP21), plus various concerts/new works at 54 Below, Joe's Pub & Radio City. DeLuca will begin performances at the Pantages in the first national tour of Newsies as Jack Kelly on March 24. In our chat he tells us just how much Newsies means to him.

I understand you were born in 1992, the year the film Newsies came out. Put all of this into perspective for me, how you feel about that and how you felt about the film as a kid. Did you ever think that someday you would be playing the role of Jack Kelly?

I have to be honest, I never actually saw the film until I was in high school. I am a very proud Disney freak but my parents never bought me the VHS so I never had any exposure to it. However, when I finally saw the film, I imagined myself playing the role of Racetrack (Max Casella's role in the film). I dreamed of standing on tables and singing King of New York, not riding a horse in a cowboy hat. Now I'm 22 and Captain (or cowboy) Jack Kelly is a much better fit.

How challenging a role is Jack to play onstage? Is it as difficult or more so than others you have tackled? If so, in what way?

I think Jack Kelly is one of the most difficult male tracks in musical theater. I wore a Fitbit on my ankle one night and I burn over 900 calories every time I do the show. It's the best marathon ever. It's extremely vocally and physically demanding. Lots of high notes to sing, lots of speeches to get the guys riled up, lots of punching and lots of getting punched. It's an adventure every night and I am having the time of my life.

How is the stage version of Newsies similar to the film?

It still has the plot line and songs that everyone knows and loves.. You still get "Seize the Day" and "Santa Fe", they are just more flushed out for the stage.

How is the musical different from the film?

There are quite a handful of differences, as one should expect. Harvey Fierstein cut the Bill Pullman character (Denton) from the film and created a new character for the stage named Katherine, a sassy and sophisticated reporter who writes about the Newsies' strike and serves as a love interest for Jack Kelly. Alan Menken and Jack Feldman added a number of catchy and smart songs that won them the 2012 Tony Award for Best Score. I've met many fans of the movie who have come to see the show and they have not been disappointed.

Describe working with this creative team - the composers, the director, choreographer. I understand we are about to see some of the best dancing onstage EVER. Talk a little about that.

Alan Menken, Jack Feldman, Harvey Fierstein, Jeff Calhoun, and Chris Gatelli...no wonder the show is a hit. Each one of those men is just as talented, smart, loving and supportive as the next.

The score is out of this world. On my day off, I find myself singing the songs in the shower and I get mad at Alan and Jack because the score is so catchy and I deserve a day off (laughing). I have never had a composer make such a tremendous impact on my life as Alan Menken. Not a day has gone by in my life when I have not either hummed or sung one of his songs out loud. Jack Feldman and I also share the stupidest sense of humor and we can entertain each other for hours texting dumb jokes. Jack also wrote the songs for A Goofy Movie, which makes him one of the coolest guys ever.

Harvey is also one of the sweetest men on the planet. He treated me like an old friend the second we met. I have seen him in countless Broadway shows and movies and think he is one of the most talented people in the business and, it's a dream come true getting to work with him.

I met Jeff Calhoun two years ago and he has been so supportive of me getting this role, and I can't thank him enough. He's been so great about letting me explore and play as Jack. Every time he comes to see the show, we'll have a new discussion about the character and it continues to help me grow.

Poor Chris Gatelli had to work with my "dance" skills. I've never worked with a choreographer who caters so much to his dancers. He is one of those talented forces of nature with a heart of gold. I'd work with him again in a heartbeat.

Are you looking forward to LA audiences?

I am thrilled to be opening this show in LA. It will be so nice to sit down and really explore the city. I don't know what to expect but I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy it.

What fun story can you tell me about working in Newsies on the road? An embarrassing moment or something that can only happen onstage.

There is a new story everyday. The set is made up of 3 giant towers that move all over the stage. If they malfunction, it results in me improving a whole new scene (which is an adventure for everyone involved) until stage management can get them back on track. Lyrics have been forgotten and I've fallen on my butt and face a number of times. The list goes on...

The performance schedule for Newsies is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. There are previews March 24 and 25 and opening Night is Thursday, March 26 at 8 pm. The show runs through April 19. Newsies is recommended for ages 6 and up.

For tickets or more information about the Los Angeles engagement of Newsies, please visit:

www.HollywoodPantages.com/Newsies.

(photo credit: Deen van Meer)



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