Jimin Moon — a local 17-year-old with a strong interest in theater, going into his senior year at Davis High School — is enjoying some time in the spotlight this week. Moon is appearing in the musical “Newsies” at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento, in a production presented by the Broadway at Music Circus series (known prior to this summer simply as the Music Circus).
The show — which runs through Sunday, July 15, is loosely based on the 1899 newsboy strike in New York, in which hundreds of teenage newsboys protested a pay cut by going out on strike, pitting the jaunty teenage “newsies” against mighty (and very wealthy) publishing tycoons like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer… in an era where child labor laws were essentially nonexistent.
“The character I play is Henry — he’s one of the newsies … They were young, ranging from age 12 to age 17. The musical shows them sticking together and working together to fight against injustice,” Moon said in a phone interview last weekend.
The role also involves appearing in a number of scenes. “As a newsies, we are on stage for a good long time during the show, singing and dancing.” Moon interprets Henry as a kid who’s got some mixed feelings about the strike — “he also wants to put food on the table for his family.”
In addition to playing Henry, Moon also appears briefly as one of the scabs (strikebreakers) who are hired to replace the striking newsies (leading to clashes between the strikers and the scabs).
Music Circus productions are put together on an intense, accelerated schedule, with two weeks of rehearsals (around 8 hours a day, sometimes a little more). And since “Newsies” is what is known as “a dance show,” Moon tries to get there early, so he has time to limber up. “I like to get myself ready for the day, because there’s so much dancing,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt myself, so I need to take a little time and make sure my body is in peak condition.”
In addition, “The weather in Sacramento is really dry in the summer, and recently there has been some smoke in the air. So I work on keeping my vocal cords hydrated every day … I drink a lot of tea, and sometimes I use a steamer.”
This week, “Newsies” has seven performances in six days (closing on Sunday). Going on stage with an audience of around 2,200 people in the seats is a thrill. The crowd this week will include “a ton of my friends, and members of my family, who are coming to see the show. I’m excited,” he said
“By the time the show ends, and I am out of my costume, it’s around 11 p.m., and it takes a half-an-hour to get home,” he said. He looks forward to each day. “It’s an incredibly fun show,” he said.
This is Moon’s second Music Circus production. “I was also in their production of ‘Oliver’ in 2011, playing one of the kids in Fagin’s gang.” Moon has also participated for three years in the Sacramento Theatre Company’s Young Professionals Conservatory (appearing alongside professional actors in STC shows like “Cinderella” and “Twelfth Night”).
He also dances with the Hawkins Contemporary Jazz Pre-Professional Company and the Sacramento Contemporary Dance Theatre Apprentice Company. He got his start onstage 10 years ago, appearing in several shows with the Davis Musical Theatre Company. (“When I went to see my first show there, I said ‘I have to do that (myself),’” he recalls.)
After Moon wraps up his three-week involvement in Music Circus, he will be heading off to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (his first visit to that state), where he will participate in a two-week training program for teens with an interest in musical theater, training under professors from university theater departments and theater professionals, with the goal of prepping the high school juniors and seniors for upcoming auditions for college theater programs.
Since Moon is starting his senior year at Davis High, it goes without saying that college is on his mind. “I will be auditioning for college musical theater programs in the fall… that’s the plan, it’s something that I’m working toward. Being able to do a show like ‘Newsies’ is exactly what I want to do this summer … working in a large-scale professional production.”
“Then I will be back in high school toward the end of August … It will be an exciting year, my last year of high school, working on college applications. I’m super-hyped … I want to keep on singing and dancing,” he said.
But this week, his focus is squarely on “Newsies,” and he is encouraging folks who know him to see the show. “Little kids will love it, parents will love it, grandparents will love it.The dancing is incredible, and the cast is working incredibly hard under our director and our choreographer, to make this show happen in such a short period of time.”
— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.