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Jack and Davey along with the rest of the Newsies proclaim, "The World Will Know," as they decide to take a stand against fat-cat Pulitzer during the dress rehearsal for "Newsies" Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

What a joy it’s been to watch the Newsies cast come to life on the WYO stage beautifully accompanied by an incredible band and supported by an outstanding technical team. Marva Craft, Jeannie Hall and Kathy McNickle really put their heart and soul into this one and it shows. Such a tremendous production.

To me, one of the most incredible aspects of the success of this run is the level of care that went into ensuring the cast was safe and that the show could indeed go on. The commitment to not only the production but to their fellow cast mates is truly remarkable especially for a group of community thespians who have busy lives outside of the WYO. I am continuously humbled by the level of support our community provides to one another and to the arts in general, especially the WYO Theater. Events like this make me pleased and proud to live, work and play in such a generous environment.

But it hasn’t all been roses — I too have felt the fracturing of our once strong community culture. The obvious fear, mistrust and anger that has come boiling to the surface. It’s difficult to watch and it’s even more difficult to endure. It’s times like these that make me even more grateful for our theater community. For opportunities like Newsies to bring large groups of people together across expansive divides. These gatherings are continuously made more challenging by COVID-19 but “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And there’s a strong will in this group of people to gather night after exhausting night to provide entertainment and a reason to celebrate, laugh, cheer and exist in a place without judgment. Where you can say hi to a neighbor you haven’t seen in months. Where you can communicate with an old friend with whom you may have lost touch. They’re not only providing an audience with a respite from the dreariness of everyday life, they’re providing themselves with a temporary family, a family that will last a lifetime.

I am grateful for the cast, crew and band of Newsies just as I am grateful every time there’s a group of people willing to put in the work to do something positive for our community. I will now and forever believe in the power of theater to bring people together, and I hope you have a chance to patronize one of the many events throughout the WYO season — it may just lift your head and your heart. As they say in Newsies, “now is the time to seize the day!”

Erin Butler is executive director of the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. 

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