Extra! Extra! Get to Know the New Newsies Tour Stars and What They Want All Fansies to Know

News   Extra! Extra! Get to Know the New Newsies Tour Stars and What They Want All Fansies to Know
 
Meet Joey Barreiro and Morgan Keene, the new Jack Kelly and Katherine Plumber selling papes across North America in the national tour of Newsies. The two actors share the details of booking the gig, where they're most excited to visit and what Fansies should know about their onstage kiss as they carry the banner of the hit Disney musical. 

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Joey Barreiro, a Miami native, was raised on the "Newsies" movie starring Christian Bale. He loved it so much he performed "Carrying the Banner" for a high school chorus show. Morgan Keene, a self-proclaimed "Fansie," had never seen the movie before attending a performance of the Broadway production during its first week of previews at the Nederlander Theatre, but she was instantly hooked. Playbill.com caught up with the two new stars while they were in Richmond, VA, to chat about tour life, Fansies, and how they handle audience reactions.
 

What type of training did you do to prep for your first Broadway auditions?
JB: Well, I went to school for this. I have a degree in doing exactly this. I went to the University of Miami.
MK: I'm a bit more complicated. I graduated high school early… and my parents said if I had a job by the time I was 18, they would leave me in New York and I could do my thing. I moved to Jersey [from Atlanta] when I was 16, and I was in [the city] auditioning, and going to dance lessons and singing lessons every single day, and I ended up getting this!

Morgan Keene and Joey Barreiro in <i>Newsies</i>
Morgan Keene and Joey Barreiro in Newsies Photo by Shane Gutierrez

What were you doing when you found out you booked the Newsies tour? 
JB: I was music-directing a show [which I composed the score for] in the Adirondacks... Then I got this job and I was like, "Yay! I’m not going to be homeless after this!"
MK: I was [already] in the female ensemble for about five months. I found out [about Katherine] when we were in Toronto for two months with the show. My manager called me twice, so I knew I had to pick it up. I ran out the stage door so nobody could hear me. She told me I got the part! I was crying. I collapsed to the floor. I was so excited and surprised! Meanwhile, this was all on the video monitor the security guard can see, and I was walking down the stairs to go back on stage, and the security guy was holding a box of tissues because he saw me crying on the monitors.

That’s so sweet! Joey, you mentioned music-directing and writing, is that a hobby of yours?
JB: Hopefully, in the future it won't just be a hobby. Hopefully, I can make some money doing it. Music is a very big part of my life. Morgan knows. I play instruments and all that jazz.
MK: He's very good.

Is your goal to write albums as a singer-songwriter or a composer of musical theatre scores? Or both?
JB: My goal is to be a serious composer and to write neo-classical music with hip-hop influence. Not like Hamilton — I'm not trying to be Lin-Manuel Miranda. I'm very much into classical music, so hopefully I can be a real thing. How are you most like your characters Jack and Katherine? 
MK: I definitely think I have the spunky vibe like Katherine.
JB: You’re so spunky.
MK: I'm so spunky! We are both confident and spunky and we like to help other people out. I think she likes to do that. There's not tons that we have in common, actually.
JB: They both laugh the same.
MK: We do have a weird laugh.
JB: Like a "heh heh heh." Like a weird laugh. Jack and I are [polar opposites]. Jack is very up front and confrontational and I'm not. Maybe we're both a little moody — a little artsy. Aside from that, I feel like Jack is very different from me on the day-to-day.

Zachary Sayle, as Crutchie, and Joey Barreiro in <i>Newsies</i>
Zachary Sayle, as Crutchie, and Joey Barreiro in Newsies Photo by Shane Gutierrez

What city are you most excited to travel to and why? 
JB: She's excited to go to Chicago because Chicago got a huge turnout last time, and Morgan loves the applause.
MK: It's true! I'm excited to go to California, too. I've never been to California.
JB: Yeah, that's going to be fun. I'm excited to go to New Orleans because of all the jazz clubs. And A Streetcar Named Desire is my favorite play, so I just want to go and smell Tennessee Williams.

The Newsies cast is relatively young. Do you guys have fun hanging out when you're not onstage?
MK: Yeah, you'd think we wouldn't really want to be around each other because we see each other at the theatre all the time, but we're constantly hanging out.
JB: Also, who else are we going to hang out with, right? I love every single person in this cast, so we're all incredibly lucky that we got the people that we got. It would be miserable being out here for a year with people that you don't like and [also] going to a city where you don't know anybody.
MK: It's an odd situation because everyone is so extremely sweet, and I've never been in a cast like that before.

What's it like being in a show with a predominately male cast?  
MK: I don't mind it! I like the boys. I started out being in the ensemble and I got to play one of the boys, so I was constantly with them. I had to get used to them and I definitely did. It's fun!  
JB: It's great being out here with all these young men. To be honest, I'm on the older side, as far as the guys. There are only two guys in the cast who are older than me, as far as [newsboys] are concerned. I love spending my time with all these guys, but it's an interesting dynamic. A few of us are a little older and a little bit of age makes kind of a lot of difference in terms of hanging out. But their company — I'm obsessed with all of them. It's a really fun bunch. They're all idiots. I love it!

I've seen the show several times and there's always an audible reaction after Jack and Katherine kiss. What should Fansies know about reacting in that moment?
MK: I think I've laughed while we’re kissing. It's fun. I like it when they [react].
JB: It feels like we're going back to middle school and where it's all “Oooooooh."  You have an audience that is very diverse, but you always have those pockets of 15-year old girls out there….
MK: …yes, they seem like they're all grouped in one section.
JB: It's pretty unavoidable. But we love it. We take it in stride.
MK: Oh yeah, I love it!

How have the Fansies welcomed you into the show? 
MK: Well, they'll come to the stage door if they're the die-hard Fansies, and they'll give us little gifts or they'll send us things in the mail. They're a very giving group. They'll give us little figurines of our characters or draw us. I had two people draw me yesterday — like a profile of me. Instagram is also huge and social media is generous. They'll tweet us, and if we like a tweet they'll go crazy and post a picture of us and go on a rampage of how much they like us.

Are you guys big on social media?
JB: Social media is a new thing for me. Stephen, who plays Davey in the show, forced me to get an Instagram. My first Instagram post [@joey.barreiro] was a plastic cup of water and a muffin and the Fansies went crazy.
MK: Hang on a second [looking up Joey's account.] Yeah, it's hysterical. He got 292 likes on a cup of water and a muffin.
JB: Well, I put a nice filter on it.  

What is your dream role? 
JB: George in Sunday in the Park with George. That's a pretty easy answer for me.
MK: Hmmm, can I say two? My favorite show is Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and I would want to play Natasha. Or — I know everyone and their mother probably says this — but my dream role would probably be to play Elphaba in Wicked.
JB: I kind of lied. If we're including plays, a dream role that I could never play would be Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.

You’ll have to act the part and make your first Instagram video!
JB: I will. "Stellaaaaaaaa." It'll be great.

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