Joey Barreiro is pretty stoked to be returning to his hometown as a newsie. And not just any
Both Cuban and Portuguese, Barreiro says he was born in Miami “built to do this kind of stuff.” "This kind of stuff" meaning singing and dancing. His love for music, namely jazz and classical, drove him to the stage. But it wasn’t until he graduated from Coral Reef Senior High School that he really began to think about what he wanted to do with his life. Knowing he loved music and inspired by the acting of Daniel Day-Lewis, Barreiro decided to major in musical theater at the University of Miami.
“When I graduated, I left for New York, and I haven’t turned back since,” Barreiro says of his trajectory.
He was directing the music in a play in upstate New York when he got the news that he got the part as Jack Kelly. “I ran down the street yelling like a madman because I was so excited. It was really great. I was also happy that I wasn’t going to be homeless after that job!” he says, half-laughing. Barreiro had been on the road for a year, jumping from one show’s run to the next.
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He got the job at the end of August, replacing former Newsies star Dan DeLuca, and started with the show in mid-September. His opening night was October 13, and he says his experience so far has been simply amazing, adding that he feels “hashtag blessed” to be on tour with a cast of "lovely people."
Though he says he can identify in a way with the "moody artist" character of Jack Kelly, Barreiro enjoys playing a role that is actually very different from who he is.
“Jack is a lot more impulsive than I am,” he says. “I am more reserved, and I try to think about what I do before I do it… Jack doesn’t. He goes for it. If he feels something, he just runs into it full force. It’s fun to play someone who approaches life in a very different way than I do.”
Aside from the personalities, Barreiro also sees how different his life is from the boy from whom his role takes inspiration, Kid Blink, who led the newsboys’ strike of 1899. At just the age of 13, Blink made a dent in history by standing up to Joseph Pulitzer and several other publishers who raised the cost of bundles of newspapers.
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“It’s the David and Goliath story… the rich versus the poor,” Barreiro explains. “People make money and they get greedy, and they want to save as much of it for themselves as possible. And the people who work for them end up getting minimum wage. So the show is historical but relevant for us today too.”
Even though Kid Blink’s life as a young boy 100 years ago was very different from Barreiro's time growing up — he says he was probably playing with Ninja Turtles where Blink was making history — the Miami native insists we can all still learn life lessons from those newsboys and leave the theater inspired to “Seize the Day” (one of Barrerio’s favorite musical numbers from the show).
“This is not just a kid show," Barreiro concludes. "What these boys did is incredible. They banded together and they got things done because they weren’t afraid. I’d like to think that when we go out there every night, we are encouraging people to seize the day — that if you want to do something, the only thing you have to do is do it.”
Newsies the Musical
November 19 to 29 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $35 to $150 plus fees. For the full schedule, visit browardcenter.org.