Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIES

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIES
McKenna Driver, Gerold Oliver, Christian Bare, Everett Tarlton, Chase Miller
and Chase Anthony Cooksey

Nashville's venerable Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre today continues its 2019 season - its 52nd in Music City - with the opening performances of the Broadway hit musical Newsies. Based on the popular 1992 Disney film of the same name, the musical - featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and a book by Harvey Fierstein - was inspired by the 1899 Newsboys Strike in New York City and had its premiere in 2011 at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, debuting on Broadway in 2012.

Since rights to Newsies was released just last year, it has quickly gained notoriety as one of the most popular musical theater titles to be performed in the 2018-19 season all over the country. Chaffin's Barn's production, directed by Martha Wilkinson, is the second version of the show to be seen in Nashville, opening just weeks after Circle Players closed their iteration of the high-energy show.

"Newsies focuses on the real-life 1899 Newsboys Strike in New York City, in which the horrors and rigors of child labor - and the plight of the poor and disadvantaged, in general - were brought sharply into focus at a time coinciding with the rise of yellow, tabloid journalism exposed the rampant greed of America's gilded age," we wrote in our review of the show.

"It's a story that should be told, filled with many untold truths amid the changing times peopled by historic characters like Joseph Pulitzer (whose bequest inspired the prizes for journalism excellence that bear his name; he also gave the money to Columbia University that resulted in the establishment of this country's first college of journalism) and Teddy Roosevelt (interestingly, Pulitzer was indicted in 1909 for libeling TR and J.P. Morgan via the pages of The New York World)."

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIESToday, The Thursday Five(+1) shines the spotlight on four members of the Chaffin's Barn cast of Newsies - David Ridley, Samantha Blake, Natalie Rankin and Kayla Petrille - who took time out from their rigorous regimen of rehearsals to tell our readers more about themselves and to offer their own suggestions for why you should come see their show, which runs through October 22. For ticket information, go to, and for reservations, call (615) 646-9977.

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIESDavid Ridley

What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My first live onstage taste of live theater was in 2002/2003: Guys and Dolls. I went in to inquire about being a pit singer and next thing I know I'm paired with the dance captain to dance that day and rest is history.

What's your favorite pre-show ritual? My pre-show ritual is simple, listening to music, and genre, stretch and just relax my mind and body.

What's your most memorable example of the showbiz adage "the show must go on..."? The thing that stands out the most is in 2015, Memphis the musical. Every actor's nightmare, oversleeping for a show. No, I didn't miss the show, however those pre-show rituals were missed, getting to the theater in just enough time to open the top of the show.

What's your dream role? To be honest I've been blessed to play all my favorite roles, however Leading Player of Pippin was a role I've wanted to do since I can remember first seeing it years ago.

Who's your theatrical crush? Can't say that I really have a theatrical crush.

Why should people come see Newsies? As we all know, Newsies is popular around town. As in every production you're going to get the high energy, great dancing and amazing singing. The difference about Chaffin's is that it's In Your Face and all around you with the unique Barn setup, not to mention a great buffet. Hope to see you all out.

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIESNatalie Rankin

What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? I grew up going to the school musicals that my older sister was in, and going to shows at the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville with my grandmother. I specifically remember seeing The Sound of Music at the Playhouse when I was young, and feeling like there had never been anything more beautiful.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I enjoy some sun salutations to warm up and focus before a show - that, and connecting with my castmates with a hug or a joke - something to say, "Hey, I've got your back out there!"

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? In a run of Urinetown in college, I broke my left hand the night of the final dress rehearsal. Not only did I get to go to the ER in full hair and makeup, but I also got to play Hope Cladwell with a cast on! In her first entrance of the show, Hope's dad asks something like, "How have you been?" - so each night, I looked down at my cast, looked back up and delivered my line: "Fine, Daddy. Just fine." It got a huge laugh every night!

What's your dream role? Such a hard choice! Right now my dream role is Francesca from The Bridges of Madison County. I would also love to play Kathy in The Last 5 Years!

Who's your theatrical crush? My theatrical crush is Steve Kazee. I saw him in Once on Broadway and his raw performance left me in such an emotional state! Everything from his scene work to his vocal choices was so grounded in the story and connected to his scene partners. I will never forget that.

Why should people come see Newsies?
The more I internalize and learn this show, the more I realize just how much of a theatrical buffet it is: you get a little bit of everything, from romance to spectacle, from charismatic dancing to truthful, grounded storytelling. This is a power packed show with heart and passion in every move, every note, every line (not to mention some of the most talented performers in town!). It is not a show to miss out on.

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIESKayla Petrille

What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My first onstage taste of theatre was production of Hamlet where I played the roles of Marcellus and the Queen Player. My first taste of experiencing live theatre was seeing Wicked in Chicago at the Drury Lane Theatre.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? My favorite pre-show ritual is drinking hot water with apple cider vinegar. It gives me a nice kick before doing a show.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? My most memorable "the show must go on moment" was in Carrie the Musical when the bucket of "blood" fell on stage well before it was meant to. As hard as I tried to avoid the splash, I ended up slipping on stage after an entrance into my next scene. Definitely a moment I won't forget.

What's your dream role? A couple of my dream roles are Deb in Ordinary Days and Julia Trojan in Bandstand.

Who's your theatrical crush? My theatre crush is Corey Cott.

Why should audiences come see Newsies? People should come see Newsies because not only is it entertaining but it's a poignant story of a group of underdogs coming together and rallying for something they believe in. It shows that making a difference is possible when we stand together.

Thursday 5(+1): Ridley, Rankin, Petrille and Blake from Chaffin's Barn's NEWSIESSamantha Blake

What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My parents took me to the Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker when I was two years old at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. I was completely transfixed by the ballet, so my parents enrolled me in classes. I had the privilege of coming full circle and having my professional ballet debut 13 years later on that very stage, in the same show!

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I always chug a vanilla, coconut milk, vegan latte. I don't know if it's necessarily helpful, but it tastes delicious!

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I broke my ankle when a set piece was pushed into me once, but I finished the show! We wrapped it up (it was also in need of stitches) and I tucked my straps of my heels in the wrap, because my ankle was too swollen to buckle! Danced on it for another two hours before going to the ER! The show must go on!

What's your dream role? Anita from West Side Story

Who's your theatrical crush? Character? Raoul from Phantom! Theatre actor? Corey Cott!

Why should people come see Newsies? It's an important and extremely relevant story of young people making their voices heard! Paving the way for change and for better treatment and rights for all! Everyone will relate and be inspired by this message and, of course, the musical talents of this beautiful cast and the incredible, high energy dancing will be a treat you will not wanna miss!

Newsies photos by Michael Scott Evans

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